We have just started the presidential election and I’m already sick of it. Do you feel that way too?
It all seems so STUPID.
In this article, I address what I see as 3 signs of stupid leadership found in the 2016 political campaign. As leaders in business, we are smart to recognize these signs and make the smart decisions that maximize our performance, production and profits in this wonderful opportunity for radical change and disruptive innovation.
NOTE: I am not advocating any political party bias but rather that as leaders we have opportunities to lead radical change and disruptive innovation in the business, civic and political worlds. Comprehensive Change is our Choice.
SIGN #1 of STUPID Leadership: We Don’t Realize That We Should Be Doing Better.
It started early where we endured the rumors and speculation of who was going to run. Then we had to endure a primary season where it looked like we had good choices on both sides.
We should have known better.
Despite some good potential, none of the Republicans seemed to have a gripping message. So something even more stupid happened. A reality show celebrity stepped in and commanded an audience with hyperbole and fear mongering. He played to a disenfranchised market and built a surprisingly strong base. Those outside of his loyal following saw it as great entertainment but stupid politics.
Meanwhile, the Democrats had a predetermined candidate who built a massive war chest. She seemed to be a sure bet. But fearing another upset like 2008, she worked to rig the system, successfully shutting down a populist movement. We all feel kind of stupid if we didn’t see that coming.
So now we are faced with a choice between two highly disliked candidates. Does that sound familiar?
But at the same time, doesn’t it seem stupid? There are 219 million registered voters and yet Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, with all of their baggage and negative ratings, are the best we have? Shouldn’t we be doing better? With all the great business and civic leaders, couldn’t we be doing much better?
As leaders of business, we often don’t see the sign that we could and should be doing better. Too often we accept the limitations and narrow our own choices. As potential leaders of radical change and disruptive innovation, we are smart to look beyond the stupid choices and make the smart decision.
SIGN #2 of STUPID Leadership: We Don’t See the 3rd Alternative.
Radical change comes when we decide to take a quantum leap instead of trudging through small, incremental change. Meanwhile, disruptive innovation comes when we purposely change the paradigm we use, seeing the world from a different perspective and offering solutions that many never imagined possible.
Often the solution that we find seems ridiculously simple. No wonder we hear, “I should have seen that. I feel so stupid.”
Most don’t see the 3rd alternative because they see only two viable choices. In political elections, too many simply accept the two candidates, hold their nose and vote for the lesser of two evils. Many others choose not to vote. They don’t see any other viable option.
Many don’t think they have a voice or a vote that matters. But once they recognize they have both, they can make a difference. Just look at what the Bernie Sanders’ fans did. They didn’t the status quo or Hillary’s automatic nomination. He didn’t get the nomination but they did change the platform. They didn’t sit down and shut up. By raising their voices they have dictated change. At the same time, few took Donald Trump seriously in the beginning. Many still don’t think he can win in November. Yet his followers that felt disenfranchised saw a 3rd alternative, went to work and now feel their voices are heard.
As business leaders, we are smart to think radically and disruptively. What happens if we take a quantum leap over the immediate problems that have paralyzed us? What happens if we adopt a different way of looking at the world?
Be a smart leader – think radically and disruptively to see the 3rd alternative.
SIGN #3 of STUPID Leadership: We Wield Power Through Divisive Communication
I’ll repeat what I said earlier, as business leaders, we are smart to think radically and disruptively. As I have studied the process and communication of innovation, I have found that it does not come from the limited “either-or thinking” filled with “NO but” language. Instead innovation flourishes almost effortlessly with collaborative “yes and” thinking. The first wields power while the second leverages power.
Let’s look at the political rhetoric. Donald Trump employs a power wielding communication, quickly establishing a bipolar approach laden with “good-bad” and “us-them” language. He uses derogatory nicknames and labels. While that panders to his political base, it does little to endear undecided voters. From a leadership power perspective, he utilizes position and punishment power. It is what I refer to as the “bark and jump” model of leadership that dominated in the Industrial Age. Unfortunately for them, we are now in the Knowledge and Sharing Age that thrives on collaboration, connection and creation – not replication and obedience.
But let’s be honest. Wielding power and divisive sometimes works. Hillary Clinton will be elected because more voters deemed her less of a threat than Donald Trump. Donald Trump will be elected if more voters believe that their world is so threatened that they need an unconventional candidate. They will overlook his divisive language because they buy into his treats. Clinton’s voters will overlook her shady ethics because they fear a Trump presidency.
But there is a better way. Smart leaders recognize that the best results come in this Knowledge and Sharing Age by power that is generated, leveraged and sustainable.
Become the Disruptive Leader
I am Dr. Loren Murfield and I develop disruptive leaders . If you are either an aspiring leader or a leader emerging in the Connection Economy and you are determined to leverage your power, contact me today.
Checkout my online leadership platform. Power University
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(c) Murfield International, Inc. 2016