How Reckless Leadership Leads to Distrust
I was driving home from an entrepreneur’s workshop this afternoon (thank you UW-Parkside, BizStarts Milwaukee, Kauffman Foundation, and selfless experts and coaches), thinking about what it takes to start a business or survive today as an early stage company. The economic and political climates are challenging, to say the least.
Breaking into my reverie was yet another news report about the health care debate. According to this news, the health insurance industry put out a report in recent days saying that current proposed legislation, if enacted, would drastically raise health care premiums on people who already have coverage. The President, in his radio address today, countered by calling the report “bogus.” He said the industry is trying to scare Americans with false reports. He went on to say that if we do not get this health care issue solved now, it would be catastrophic for the economy.
Several questions came immediately to mind. First, who is more knowledgeable about the effect of pending legislation on premiums, the industry or the president?
Second, who can be trusted to tell us the truth, the industry or the president?
Third, when the president calls an industry report bogus, on what basis does he make the claim?
Fourth, who is scaring the American people: the industry who says premiums will rise sharply or the president who says if we don’t solve this problem now, economic catastrophe looms?
I suspect one reason why so many people have turned out for protest gatherings, be they tea parties, marches on state and national capitols, or town hall meetings, is that so-called leaders are behaving recklessly. Bent on winning political battles and protecting power bases, they play fast and loose with facts, ignore previously accepted rules of engagement, and spurn the public when it questions the basis or logic of their policies or decisions.
Reckless leadership leads to distrust, disdain, and deepening opposition. Worse, it creates a climate that is unstable and deeply hostile to the formation of new businesses or innovative solutions based on sound theory, rigorous testing, verifiable proof, and committed investment.
The reckless leadership and open rancor in Washington is killing our future. As an entrepreneur and leadership development practitioner, I charge those in power to know what they are talking about, to present us with the facts behind their conclusions, and to elevate their thinking and their vocabulary to a level that convinces us they have a true understanding of both the issues and the implications of their decisions.