September 22, 2007

Leaders or Lemmings

Filed under: Influence, Leadership, Speaking and Communication — Mark Sanborn @ 10:13 am

In today’s Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan (if you’re a regular reader you know I’m an unabashed fan of her writing) wrote about Alan Greenspan’s new book. She quotes a former U.S. senator who complained about high-level officials “bravely-speaking out after the have left office.” She points out that these folks were perfectly free to speak out while they were in office. It is my belief that is what leaders do.

There is little bravery in criticism after-the-fact. Followers or constituents may not agree with the leader, but the leader is responsible to “speak the truth in love” knowing that there are always risks in honesty, but that the greater risk is in timidity.

I’ve never been a fan of “find out where they’re going and jump in front of the line” leadership strategy, because that isn’t leadership. If you believe there is a better destination, then communicate that in a compelling way and invite people to follow you in that direction.

We need leaders, not assertive lemmings.

1 Comment »

  1. Another big AMEN from me! Aside from people who speak bravely once they leave office, add reporters who trade silence for access to the list. For the past two Presidential elections, Newsweek reporters ran major stories after the election that were the result of months of reporters having total access to the campaigns. The price of this access was to write about nothing prior to the election.

    To my recollection the reporters found things about both parties candidates each time that voters should have known about. It was completely unhelpful to have that kind of information AFTER the election.

    I’m not suggesting that reporters doublecross their sources. What I am suggesting is that reporters shouldn’t make these kind of sweetheart deals in the first place. Timely objective reporting is far superior to after the fact “inside the campaign” coverage that doesn’t help citizens decide the course of their country.

    Keep up the good work about what makes leaders, leaders. I need this more than ever that I’ve been promoted into a job that is most nearly like a library branch manager.

    Comment by Daniel Cornwall — September 23, 2007 @ 11:09 am

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