Wednesday, May 9, 2012

"nato" Leaders

Some years ago I was speaking at a conference in Finland. In the discussion period that followed one member of the audience said "You have described problems with leadership very accurately. These problems are most often seen in nato (No Action Talk Only) leaders. These are the people who are quick to criticise, happy to utter platitudes, very full of themselves, but utterly useless when it comes to getting something done." Looking around it seems to me that this pseudo nato group is very much alive and well.

I thought of that when I was speaking with a political leader recently. Despite his party being elected with a very strong majority, virtually everything has been referred to a committee and the response to questioners is along the lines of "we're looking into it". Not only does this person appear to be a nato leader but it looks like its a "nato" leader meets Through the Looking Glass" scenario.

Now I have no opinion as to the leadership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (the "real" NATO) because, in part, living in the antipodes means that we are outside its influence. But I do have an opinion of the No Action Talk Only group (the pseudo nato) who purport to be leaders. My opinion is not positive and it extends to virtually all political leaders (no matter what their flavour); to those who conduct and/or focus on weekly (or other far-too-frequent) political opinion polls; to radio "shock jocks"; and to many of the analysts who prognosticate on what profits should be expected from public companies and who. by so doing, encourage a focus on short term results rather than long term issues.

Frankly I'm tired of low-profile, emphasise-the-negative politics designed to get some person or party into positions of power - and this politicking occurs just as much in large organisations as it does in the overtly political arena. Its not real leadership and its not real management - it is evidence that the scourge of PPM (Piss Poor Management) permeates to even the highest positions around.

Why do we have so much bullying, violence, and significant degrees of anti social behaviour? I suggest because all-too-often it is modeled by our political "leaders", by radio "shock jocks", by one-eyed opinion pieces in newspapers, and the like. The people responsible seem to think that only their opinion or cause is "right" or "just" and they seem to feel free to demean and attack those with different views or opinions. This isn't leadership - its bullying and should be labelled as such. We cannot seek to confront bullying in the school ground, in the work place, on the web, or anywhere else until we have confronted it in our "leaders".

We need leaders of substance. These leaders are those who have robust discussions and debates without total negativity, ego trips, or demeaning others. These leaders will acknowledge both their own weaknesses and the strengths of others. These leaders will seek the best for all followers even when this comes from others. These leaders will seek to act in a way that is best for all rather than just for themselves or their ideology. These leaders will inspire us with a vision and they will set out this vision in a way that makes us all want to work together in order to make it a reality. Where these leaders see something they believe is wrong, they will develop and offer positive alternatives and they will show how these alternatives can be implemented. When given the opportunity, they will act to bring about the better future about which they have been talking. These leaders are truly authentic and are people worth following.

Let's get rid of "nato" leaders. Lets get rid of bullying.

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