Who Cares About Henry’s Speech?
Dear Clients and Colleagues,
WHO CARES ABOUT HENRY’S SPEECH?
What difference does it make to you if The New York Times’ front-page carries a story about a recent speech made by the head honcho of investment bank Goldman Sachs? According to The Times, “Mr. Goldman” Henry Paulson criticizes the hands that feed him-corporate executives and board members. “Seldom does such a powerful Wall Street executive take on corporate America so directly,” the paper says.
Consider what a roller coaster the last twelve months have been. Up’s and down’s, hair-raising economic twists and turns, learning to live with fears brought on by unprecedented daily threats to our lives. It’s been a wild ride! Normal is redefined as crazy, unexpected and unpredictable.
To address whether Mr. Paulson’s words are personally relevant, you bet! They emphasize how serious the lack of trust in business leadership is. It is a malaise hammering our economy. What has surfaced in recent months impacts you, me and everyone we know. It also is an opportunity to reflect, assess and make changes.
MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL
We all like to think a leader is somehow “better” than the average, more capable and qualified. While it’s true that many are, a great many more people have credentials than ever become leaders. Becoming a leader isn’t just about credentials. Leaders surface under a complex set of circumstances. At the highest levels, leaders represent a personification of mass consciousness of the group that has selected the leader. It’s almost as if a leader is a valve for all the hopes, frustrations, dreams, angers and fears, all the good and bad characteristics, of humanity. On the positive side of government, think Churchill. On the negative, think Hitler. On the positive side of business, think Herb Kelleher at Southwest Airlines. On the negative, well, the papers are full of examples.
Leadership is central to the success of any society, civilization or business. When leadership is wise and principal based, when leadership powers are balanced, more often than not, outcomes are positive. When leadership is naďve and ego-based, when powers are unbalanced, outcomes are frightening. You and I can do a better job of picking our leaders in all aspects of life, even in business. We can do a better job of picking those we choose to follow. First, we must better define good leadership.
And that starts with you and me. Yes, us. Here’s the challenge: For our leaders to be wiser, stronger, more principled, each of us individually must raise the bar on our actions, thoughts, words and deeds. We have to be more conscious of the world around us. We have to be more ethical and compassionate. We have to show more common decency. We have to be more aware. It is about principles; and it is most definitely about continuous, non-stop education and self-evaluation.
Here is my declaration: It is extremely difficult to recognize in others what we do not, at least in small measure, ourselves posses.
SMALL STEPS, BIG PAYOFF
Realistically, what can one person, do about leadership in business?
Start by asking yourself the following questions and pay attention to your answers. What are you reading every day and is that reading balanced in information and perspective? Who are you listening to regularly and is value created with every word or is the message one of blame and attacking others? Most importantly, where do you invest your precious resources of Time, Money and Love? The answers will give you insight into your own values. If you like what you see, great. Otherwise, explore new sources of information and influence.
Finally, besides self-awareness, be on the alert for companies where leaders advocate any one of the following three traps, all of which lead to trouble.
- Leadership based on fear and greed.
(There’s a big difference between fear and alertness.)
- Leadership based on arrogance and invincibility.
(There’s a big difference between arrogance and confidence.)
- Leadership based on exclusion and snobbery.
(There’s a big difference between exclusion and the quest for excellence.)
Of course, there are more, but these seem particularly apropos for the current problems. For our economy to improve, we as a group of people have to be crystal clear about the kind of corporate governance we want and that means each of us must embrace leadership with a profound depth of understanding, an understanding that starts within.
Have a great summer.
Oh, I almost forgot: A new book titled No Longer Moot and written by my advisory board member Dr. Gary Cadenhead of The University of Texas at Austin’s business school, has just been released. It chronicles the evolution of The University’s internationally renowned business plan competition. Far from an academic exercise, these competitions launch significant new technologies and companies. It’s a great read for anyone interested in entrepreneurship. As some of you are aware, I have been coaching the UT teams for 10 years now and teach there as well as at TCU. By the way, once again this year, the UT team, a company called Private Concepts, won the entire competition, competing against Universities the world over.
Now, have a truly great summer!
Alex B. Ramsey
President, LodeStar Universal
PS. If you or anyone you know is facing challenges in Leadership, Sales, Marketing, Executive Presentations, Financial Road Shows, or Customer Service, please consider learning how LodeStar Universal can be of value to you. Call today at 214.696.3510 to find out more about our consulting, seminars and keynote speeches.