What is the role of a leader? Most Americans would probably say it is the ability to influence others to achieve a common goal. An effective leader realizes that clear and concise communication is essential to achieve any goal. Listening to feedback and soliciting ideas is a big part of the effective communication that moves people toward a destination. The worn phrase is really true—there is no “I” in team when it comes to leadership. Most anyone can occupy a position, but few know how to lead. In today’s shifting economy, many managers seem resistant to sharpening listening skills and improving communication. The economic squeeze with its job scarcity has seemed to create more freedom for a dictatorial managerial leadership style to survive.
I’m sure most of you have been exposed to a manager without real leadership skills. There are far too many ineffective managers who won’t take the time to invest in their people. Instead, they seem consumed with their agenda and ideas. These self-focused leaders love to hear themselves talk, and are quick to criticize and prove control. Because of this, many people who work for these kind of bosses are not being heard and their feedback is not being factored into the business model. This managerial style results in huge turnover, employee dissatisfaction, and failure to reach work goals. Is a manager truly being effective if employees do not buy into the manager’s goals or message and know their feedback is not valued?
Recently President Obama delivered a speech to a joint session of Congress, outlining his latest plan to create jobs. In that speech he was adamant that Congress pass his bill, repeating the phrase “you should pass it right away,” ten times. This statement might have been tolerable if the president had actually met and effectively communicated his goals written into the bill with those in Congress before he made this speech. This was not the case, and the shocking detail was the fact that the bill was not yet even finished when he made this speech. Not only did the president fail to communicate his ideas to lawmakers, but the bill remained incomplete. Why should any legislator be expected to pass a bill where final details have not yet been completed? Interestingly enough, there were zero sponsors for weeks while the bill was being written with only two extremely loyal democrat co-sponsors being added late.
One may assume the president would have taken the time to communicate and convince members of Congress to pass his plan. Unfortunately, he again decided to do just the opposite as he declared, “I intend to take that message to every corner of this country.” President Obama has been on the road since the speech, spending thousands of taxpayer dollars campaigning, promoting his ideas, and encouraging crowds to demand that lawmakers pass his bill. During this tour, the Senate was preparing to take the first vote on this bill, and deciding whether it was a viable option for our country at this time without any communication from President Obama. Would you buy into a plan that has been force-fed and lacks details? Consequently, this was answered on October 11th when the Senate, with a Democratic majority, rejected the bill, 50 to 49. So ask yourself, has the president demonstrated a participative leadership style in proposing this jobs bill when he is unable to get his own political party to buy into his goals for the country? Does President Obama mirror a boss who only dictates what he wants or a leader who is being followed? This is one of many examples of the lack of leadership that needs to be examined before a decision is made by our electorate in thirteen months.