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Why Is Leadership So Difficult?

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

The problem with leadership ‘solutions’ is that so often the people giving them couldn’t lead their dog for a walk. So many people rise through organizations on being ‘politicians’ (including in our respective countries). Mediocrity rises to the top because it knows how to ‘play the game’ and manipulate both the system and others. Often times we substitute designations (i.e. MBA, PhD, etc.) or schools (he went to Harvard so he must be smart) for leadership. William F. Buclkey once famously said that he would rather be lead by the first 500 names in the Boston phonebook than by somebody from Harvard. Samuel F. Bacharach has an excellent litle blog posting on why leadership fails (hypocrisy, elitism and emotional deception) that I think says it all fairly well and straightforward. It is the problem that we see over and over again with our national leaders (i.e. Barrack Obama and Michael Ignatieff) and most major consulting firms (having worked in one I can tell you that they certainly do not live what they sell). It is why so many organizations are on the leadership merry-go-round and there is a constant stream of ‘leadership training’. The problem is that you cannot train people who do not want to learn. If you have been rewarded for being a jerk and manipulating others, the odds are you are not going to suddenly change because of a workshop.  Perhaps what we need is more REAL diversity in leadership.