“There are no such things as bad teams, only bad leaders.”
I just heard some supportive research here at the CEO Retreat that reinforces this cautionary adage. The topic is “well-being.” Specifically, what defines well-being for citizens, employees, and their countries and organizations? How can leaders improve, or even measure, that entire experience—and therefore lead better?
The "aha" insight is intuitive: There are four necessary building blocks for people to engage with their governments, to prosper in their chosen livelihood, to pay taxes willingly, to Instagram only the happy pics… what have you. These four are trust, compassion, stability, and hope. But how can leaders insist on followership when they only ask, and do not give in return? How can prime ministers and CEOs ask their teams for trust, toleration of lower pay, and job security for buy-in to a nation-building vision when they themselves do not walk the talk? When they fail to govern with honor? It is no surprise that individuals’ faith in all institutions (except, perhaps surprisingly, the U.S. military), and employee engagement scores in most companies, are at all-time lows, everywhere.
My conclusion: Like in the movie, The American President, when President Andrew Shepherd publicly does a grand mea culpa (note the irony in the protagonist’s surname), “I need to stop worrying about keeping my job, and start doing it.” So, lead by example, engage your employees and citizens with an open spirit, take political risk, and be more authentic and less cynical regarding public service. The flock will follow. They know justice and fairness when they see it.