Home Homepage Featured PIERRE TRUMEAU: The third installment of a trilogy on leadership

PIERRE TRUMEAU: The third installment of a trilogy on leadership

By Don Hubble. March 8, 2020. BLOWING ROCK, NC — There are times in any organization to regroup.  Sometimes organizations grow too fast and find themselves unable to balance all of the resources that led to successful growth.  For those organizations, it is time to slow down and regroup.


About the Author: Don Hubble lives in Blowing Rock, although he spends much of the winter in Greenville, SC.  In his business career, he was a senior executive in corporate America.  He has volunteered extensively in Blowing Rock, serving on the Chamber of Commerce Board, the Board of the Village Foundation, the Board of Blowing Rock Art & History Museum, and the Board of Blowing Rock Country Club.  He also served on the Planning Board for the Town of Blowing Rock.


Other organizations are led by individuals who clearly aren’t qualified or sufficiently competent to meet the current challenges.  The stresses of leadership take their toll and what strengths the leader might have had to begin with fade.  In a worst case scenario, those that did not possess the requisite leadership skills initially often will double-down and play to the their worst qualities.  On such occasions, it is time to regroup – and to get new leadership.

Many times, a leader benefits from inheriting an organization that has had years – perhaps even decades – of success.  Most new leaders (at least the effective ones) build upon their predecessors’ previous success, while a less effective new leader takes actions that create power plays, divisions among the rank and file, and even chaos – all of which ultimately leads to the organization’s failure.

mANY OF THE FAILURES OF A NEW LEADER ARE OFTEN IMMEDIATELY APPARENT.

Some new leaders even dismantle what has made the organization successful.  In their respective minds, they are competing with their predecessor.  So anything promulgated or put into place by a previous administration is highly suspect and the “baby is thrown out with the bath water.”

Many of the failures of a new leader are often immediately apparent. Other, future failures are, by definition, unknown, but some future failures may be predictable given the policies, processes and practices that have been instituted by the new leader.  Left untethered, the new leader rushes into actions that will clearly be counterproductive. Achieving success is doubtful in those cases, by whatever standard success is measured.

In short, poor leaders ignore facts, dismiss expert advice, act spontaneously, and convince themselves that they are the smartest person in the room – on any subject.

When an organization flounders, new leadership is essential.  Hoping that an existing leader will improve over time is an exercise in futility.  While the replacement process is arduous and fraught with uncertainly, change is absolutely necessary if the organization is to be sustained.

Effecting Leadership Change

In Corporate America (indeed in any for-profit business), leadership failure is usually dealt with quickly.  In our system of government, a political groundswell is often required – and an election – to deal with failure.  Simply put, it is far easier to accomplish leadership change in a for-profit company than it is in a nonprofit organization or politics-driven institution.   The challenges and uncertainties that accompany change pale beside the realities of doing nothing: things will get worse if change is not implemented.

The challenges and uncertainties that accompany change pale beside the realities of doing nothing: things will get worse if change is not implemented.

The leader of a successful organization fully understands the importance of surrounding himself or herself with experienced, competent, and qualified, associates.   Great (and even good) leaders do not hesitate in sharing the glory of accomplishments. They also don’t deflect blame when things don’t go as planned.  Successful leaders have high levels of both integrity and humility; they are honest, trustworthy, and compassionate.

James Collins in his book; “Good to Great,” defined this as “Getting the right people on the bus.”  Not only is it important to have the right people involved but they have to occupy the right “seats” on the organizational bus. Ideally, they will be enjoying the ride.

It is also critically important to keep the right people on the bus.  If a less effective “passenger” is not replaced with a better one, the ride gets bumpy, uncomfortable and chaotic.

Often a new leader first needs to stabilize the organization. That may require reaffirming for what the organization stands. Developing the strategies that need to be implemented and creating the most desirable organizational culture are exercises that need continuous study.   Action plans supporting key strategies must be developed. The results must be measurable, as well as an understanding of whether or not they can be accomplished with available resources.

We are desperately in need of stability, rationality, and cohesiveness.

With new leadership, the responsibilities and purposes of an organization must be continuously defined and, periodically, even redefined. New goals may be set, but cataclysmic changes avoided.  Corrections and improvements in an organization that has been led by a less than effective predecessor requires patience. Reaffirming solid managerial practices and processes is also required in order to get back on track.

In present-day America, we are desperately in need of stability, rationality, and cohesiveness.

Studying U.S. history offers precedents. A good example of the need and benefit for stabilizing measures – a time to regroup – took place in 1952.  General Dwight D. Eisenhower became president a little less than a decade after World War II and the Korean Conflict had just ended.  Truman chose not to run for a third term and in the election of Eisenhower, the nation chose a military leader as its president.

Eisenhower was not a “do-nothing” president. Rather, he allowed the nation to regroup as he promoted stability and security.  Yes, there was a “Cold War” but no armed conflicts.  As evidence of the stability existing in the Eisenhower years, the average age of marriage declined precipitously because there was an overall feeling of security in our country.  People felt confident about the future!

More than a decade later, Gerald Ford took a most courageous act when he pardoned Richard Nixon.  Many questioned it as partisan politics, but Ford’s stated justification was for the nation to “heal.” He wanted the country to focus on challenges that were unrelated to his predecessor’s abuse of power.   He stated, rightfully so, that a trial would further public division.

We need less divisive practices from our leaders on both sides of the political aisle and in both our Executive and our Legislative branches of government.

Certainly, the world is a far different, even much more complex place than it was when Eisenhower or Ford was president.  The U.S. has inserted itself into the economy, politics and the cultures of other nations; at times this has been justifiable and at other times, less so. Striking a balance between isolationism and being the world’s problem solver is very, very difficult. Sometimes problems are best handled locally.

America at a Crossroads

There are times to regroup and we are facing such a time – on steroids!

We need less divisive practices from our leaders on both sides of the political aisle and in both our Executive and our Legislative branches of government.

We need to unite the United States.

We need less tribal identification. We need our leaders to utter fewer falsehoods. We need a balance of power in national government.  We need more teamwork. We need a fairer sharing of wealth. We need to focus on the major issues facing our country and the world, even the issues that threaten human existence.

In short, we need new leadership.  Any organization can withstand a poor leader for a period of time.  Sadly, we have exceeded that “grace” period with our current leadership.

Since the decision to elect a leader is long-lasting, it is absolutely essential that those whom we do elect are individuals aiming to serve the greater good and not just to enrich themselves, their families, and their friends.

We need to unite the United States.  We need stability and security.  We need to be more “giving” and less driven by “getting.”   We need congeniality, collaboration and cohesiveness.

Here and now, we need new leadership in the Executive and Legislative branches of our uniquely American form of government.

 

 

Don W. Hubble

 

 

 

 

 

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