Too often today we see leaders who behave like Schultz; they “know nothing.” And with some leaders, it isn’t just avoiding decisions involving ethical dilemmas, it is failing to recognize future dilemmas the organization’s strategies may create for their teams.
As I read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s The Bully Pulpit this summer, I was awestruck – awestruck by her work and awestruck by the leadership of Teddy Roosevelt, William Taft, and Samuel S. McClure. While Goodwin tells us about these three leaders and others, she also teaches us about the American political and social landscape of 1900.
When I read this past weekend that the current executive team at Market Basket ordered their workers back to work today or they would be replaced, it confirmed for me they didn’t get it. Unless Arthur T. Demoulas gets back in charge quickly this week, employees aren’t going to return and neither are many of their customers.
This week I have enjoyed looking back 45 years to the first moon walk, which happened at 10:56 PM on Sunday, July 20, 1969. I was a camp counselor at Goshen Scout Camps in the hills of Virginia at the time. Being very interested in astronomy and space, I rigged-up the black and white television in the staff administrative building and watched the live feed with a few other interested counselors. I remember at the time wondering why Neil Armstrong got to go first.
For-profit businesses aren’t always known for their generosity. But dozens of U.S. companies buck that trend every year, reaching into their deep pockets and giving money to help make a difference for some of society’s most vulnerable populations, including underprivileged children, victims of domestic abuse and hungry people.
This week I have been following the Tour de France because our family friend, Edward “Ted” King, is riding for the second year for Team Cannondale. Ted is our son’s age, I coached him in youth soccer and his mom and dad are friends of ours. And Ted is on the team because he plays his team role very well. More about that in a minute.
Today, we are used to our politicians taking shots at each other, mostly through third-party ad campaigns. Imagine, however, if Vice President Joe Biden got insulted by some personal comments made by past Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson and then challenged Paulson to a duel with pistols.
There were several days last week when I felt like I was drinking out of a communication fire hose. I spent the early part of the day before 7AM getting caught-up on e-mails and working on detailed tasks. Then I went into a four to five hour meeting and came out to find 70 – 80 e-mails and four text messages waiting for me.
Over 25 years ago a friend and I closed on a business deal that was the worst deal we ever made. Before we got to the closing there were many “yellow and red lights”, but I didn’t see them…I kept moving towards the closing. I have subsequently referred to this as “transaction momentum”, which is when there are so many forces pushing everyone toward a closing that you fail to back-off when you should.
Effective leaders know the emotional capabilities of their team members. They know their strengths and insecurities. They know when to push and went not to. One challenge is to understand how deep one’s well of strength is. This past week when we lost Maya Angelou I listened to an old interview in which she talked about her life, which had very difficult early years. If anyone had a deep well of strength, it was she.