The Employers' Association

The Employers’ Association (TEA) is a not-for-profit employers’ association, formed in 1939, with offices in Grand Rapids serving the West Michigan employer community. We help more than 600 member companies maximize employee productivity and minimize employer liability through human resources and management advice, training, survey data, and consulting services.

TEA is in the business of helping people. This blog is intended to address human issues, concerns and the things that impact people - be they self-perpetuated or externally imposed. Feel free to respond to the thoughts presented here, for without each other, we are nothing!

Monday, October 27, 2014

POLITICAL LEADERSHIP – AN OXYMORON?

As we approach this year’s general elections – listening to the negative remarks, innuendo and just enough truth to make an exaggeration believable – it might be time to consider what makes a leader great.  It IS NOT bringing others down to make someone else appear better – it is being saying what one plans to do then doing whatever it takes to accomplish what was promised.  It IS NOT blaming others for a situation or unfortunate event – it is taking responsibility for your own involvement with a problem then moving forward to resolve it.  It IS NOT doing what is popular – it is doing what is right.  Sadly, more deflection and avoidance tends to happen during this time of year – more scary negative images painted than positive solutions developed.
 
A great leader should be able to shine as a beacon of truth through the storms of discontent to bring others to safety.  He or she should be able to stand upon his or her own accomplishments without needing to highlight them for they should serve as self-evident truths.  When a great leader speaks, others listen – not because they “have to” but because they “choose to.”  Great leaders make a difference because of what they do (consistently and without hesitation) rather than what they say (publicly OR privately).
 
While many think their one vote will not make a difference, only one fact can be absolutely guaranteed – that a mute voice will never be heard above the din of an emotional crowd.  A “silent protest” allows others to speak for you, minimizing your ability to determine your own destiny.  For those who take this time of year seriously – who see it as a chance to initiate change where necessary and “stay the course” when warranted – several thoughts to help cast your ballot most effectively (by choosing an exceptional leader to help chart the course) would include:

  • Great leaders are often deliberate and measured in their response to situations. They are not
    slow nor overly focused in their thinking processes - they typically consider the “pros and cons” of most decisions and formulate several alternative courses of action should their initial direction prove untenable.
  • Great leaders are not prone to bursts of temper or extreme reactions. They are thoughtful in how they sift through and process information, rarely acting until they have considered thoroughly what might happen when they act – and what might have to be “done” to “undo” anything that goes wrong. 
  • Great leaders think analytically. Their “comfort in their own skin” helps them to become expert at finding their way through reams of data quickly and reaching the core of the matter. 
  • Great leaders are decisive (not derisive). Subdued in words and actions, a great leader spends as much time “thinking” as they do “acting.” Perceived delays in action usually result from the need to view issues from all sides rather than a fear of failure or “losing face.”
  • Great leaders are good listeners. They let others do most of the talking (soliciting and eliciting ideas) then meld diverse suggestions into workable solutions. Great leaders act on what they hear after filtering “what will work” from “what will not” so their direction is more likely to be accepted by “the team” than rejected as being a “top-down” or “mandated” decision.  
  • Good leaders are risk averse – great leaders willingly take calculated risks if they advance the cause and accomplish the mission.  When we do things as they have always been done we cannot expect to produce results that are different from what they have always been. Great leaders take risk wisely when others depend on the decisions they make while trying to grow – for to remain “as they are” will prevent them from becoming “all they could be.”
  • Great leaders often become the voice of reason within any situation or environment.  While a great leader’s voice may not be the loudest or most convincing, it often becomes most clearly heard and persuasive as it reaches out above the noise of a crowd. Influenced more by rationality than charisma – by self-confidence than the need for external validation – a great leader is “heard” because
    people know something reasonable is being said in a rational and thoughtful way.

Do not let this year’s election results become more of a “trick” than a “treat.”  While we “fall back” this time of year to implement daylight savings time, do not allow your political leadership to become a “fall back” candidate elected through default, apathy or emotion rather than careful consideration.  Consider (thoughtfully and carefully) the kind of leader you prefer to follow in your daily life – then do everything within your power to put that kind of individual into office when you are given the privilege