Whether it’s personally or professionally, most people are leaders in some capacity, yet few people see themselves as a leader.
Now, think for a moment that your leadership qualities and capabilities were on display for the world to see each and every day?
How consistent would you be as a leader? How much more difficult to be a good leader then?
Portraits in Leadership
Leadership Scenario 1
In the first scenario, our leader exhibits great leadership, showing poise and confidence while taking risks that, if successful, will ultimately benefit his team. Despite these high risks to his team, and the risk of his own career, this leader makes a choice without having 100% certainty of its success.
He takes the information that his team has presented to him, realizes the great potential of the desired outcome, and moves forward despite the warnings and naysayers. This leader recognizes the potential victory at hand, both strategically and for lifting the spirits of his team, and takes decisive action based on the information he has, and ultimately succeeds in this instance.
Leadership Scenario 2
In the second scenario, our leader is very timid, unsure of himself and his ability to achieve the stated goals for his team.
After an initial bump, he has been mired in a slump and has now begun to send out his subordinates to meetings in which he should be present. When he makes statements to his team, he is unable to convince them of the significance of the situation and the sense of urgency that is at hand.
This leader fails to take responsibility for the situation, places blame on others, and ultimately fails in this scenario.
In your personal or professional world, which leader above would you want to follow?
If you wanted to be successful, who would you follow?
What if I told you these two leaders were the same person, with a focus on different events?
I present to you the President of the United States, Mr. Barack Obama.
In the first scenario…
President Obama exhibited great leadership skills and decision-making when he put our SEALS and other military personnel in harm’s way to fly into Pakistan and take out Osama Bin Laden. His awareness of the situation, his sense of urgency, and his decision to take action without knowing full certainty of the outcomes was one the gutsiest decisions I remember a President making in recent years.
President Obama truly showed leadership by risking everything – lives of his team, his Presidency, faith of the American people – for the good of the American people. Whether you’re a fan of the President or not, his leadership in this situation was spectacular and was deserving of congratulations he received.
In the second scenario…
President Obama shows a complete lack of leadership relating to the discussions about the debt ceiling. When the concern about a potential debt ceiling fight was raised in late 2010, President Obama didn’t seem to sense the urgency of the situation and the ideology of those elected in the 2010 mid-term election.
As we came closer to reaching the debt ceiling, US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner spent more time discussing this issue than President Obama, issuing deadlines to the press and the American people that seemed worthless due to partisan attitudes. When President Obama reached out to House Leader John Boehner, it was too little too late, as the agreement they struck behind closed doors was rejected by members of Boehner’s own party.
It became apparent at that time, President Obama had absconded his leadership, and any positive momentum he had garnered just weeks before was gone.
Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less. – Dr. John C. Maxwell
Learning from a Leadership Expert
I will be the first to admit that President Obama doesn’t deserve credit alone for the success in scenario one, nor does he deserve complete blame for the outcome of scenario two; but his inconsistency in team leadership through both these scenarios brings focus to specific laws from Dr. John Maxwell’s ‘The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership’ and how they relate to each scenario.
Law of Timing:
- In scenario #1, there was much research, discussion, and patience exhibited by President Obama. When he sensed that the time to act was right, either to prevent Pakistan from learning of the plans or to lose the opportunity, action was taken to take out Osama bin Laden.
- In scenario #2, there was no sense of urgency on behalf of President Obama, and despite being aware of the potential for trouble, there was no action when the Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate, leading to the situation we eventually experienced.
Law of Buy-In:
- In scenario #1, while not having 100% support for the plan, there was enough support from members of the cabinet and other military leaders for President Obama to make a decision to move forward.
- In scenario #2, President wasn’t able to influence members of his own party to successfully reach a positive outcome for the American people. When he and John Boehner came to an agreement, the President didn’t even have enough buy-in from Boehner himself for him to be able to go back to his party to win approval.
Law of Sacrifice:
- In scenario # 1, President Obama was willing to sacrifice members of our military, and possibly his career had the raid failed, for the betterment of the American people as a whole. He knew that the opportunity presented was not going to last, and he took action.
- In scenario #2, partisan politics ruled the day, and President Obama was not willing to make tough choices and sacrifices until it was too late. By then, the only option was to give John Boehner 98% of what he wanted, and the American people got screwed.
As both houses of government will soon return from their summer vacations, and as the United States continues to be mired in an ever changing and weak economy, the question must be asked for the remainder of 2011 and beyond:
“What leader is going to show up at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue today?”
How have your leadership challenges shaped your life? What attitude do you have towards leaders who are inconsistent? What would your followers say about your leadership abilities? How are you continuing to grow in your leadership? Who are you adding value to, helping to grow their leadership?
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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders™
Steve Goble is a certified Coach, Teacher, & Speaker with the John Maxwell Team
He serves clients & youth on leadership, development, & helping reach true potential
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Image Sources: images.politico.com