Monday, January 26, 2015

The Sucking Sound of the Leadership Vacuum in Alberta

A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. - John C. Maxwell

The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves. - Ray Kroc

I was amused and disappointed the other day when it was announced that 1700 private jets were being used by attendees of the upcoming Davos conference on global warming and income inequality.  The disconnect between the verbally stated intentions of the attendees and their demonstrated actions sharply demonstrates the old adage:

Let my actions speak so loudly that you can’t hear what I am saying.

When one wonders why such an obvious disconnect can take place for a conference so important, it is important to realize that such leadership (or demonstrated lack thereof) starts on a much smaller, local scale.

The roots of leadership capability start at home and with that I turned to examples of local leadership in the Province of Alberta to observe leadership in its incubation stages.

After all, the leaders on the local scene eventually become our global leaders.

After taking a quick scan of the leaders on a local scale, it is easy to see why leadership by example is missing in Davos.

It’s because it doesn’t exist at the local levels either.

Last week, Mayor Nenshi of Calgary allowed Councillor Druh Farrell to make unsubstantiated, unverified claims of alleged wild, alcohol-fuelled parties by councillors at City events.

A real leader recognizes that unsubstantiated claims should never be made in public.  A real leader also doesn’t allow his or her colleagues to be skewered publicly with such unsubstantiated claims.  There is a time and a place for such claims and action is taken using facts that allow corrective action to be taken if necessary.  If unsubstantiated, such allegations never see the light of day.

The Mayor not only allowed Councillor Farrell to make such vague, unsubstantiated claims, he exacerbated the situation with his own references to councillors getting “blotto” at community events, to inappropriate drinking by councillors in their offices and to the use of illegal drugs by councillors.

By his own admission, he has no evidence or proof.  He claims he was merely reporting what he had heard and in doing so, he as the leader of City Council invited and encouraged an unfair, unprofessional, public smearing of many hard working councillors who sacrifice everything in order to serve their community.

In other words, he threw his colleagues under the bus without facts of any kind and he doesn’t seem to care.

It appears that he enjoys the merits of being the Mayor when it is convenient and he often plays the card of “I’m just one vote of many on council” but for some reason, he is unable or unwilling to assume the position of the leader of the City Council when the presence of such a leader is critical.

It is a sad reality that politicians are rarely real leaders and this smear probably serves a political need of his.  Well ….. that is giving him the benefit of the doubt and is assuming that he is an astute strategist.  It is a known strategy for those who don’t know what they are doing to encourage disagreement amongst their colleagues to keep them distracted from recognizing the lack of leadership at the top.

Then again, maybe he or his advisors just don’t know any better. 

In the real world, such allegations without merit or proof get a “leader” fired or potentially sued for slander.

But the world of politics is not the real world and therefore, such unprofessional, unethical behavior is rarely punished.

A real leader also knows how to apologize and regain control of matters when things get out of control under their watch.  At the time this was written, no such apology is forthcoming from the Mayor.  He has informed some councillors that as far as he is concerned, this is a dead issue but if they wish, they can call a point of privilege to pursue.

So instead of apologizing to the people who have been unfairly smeared and instead of killing the issue once and for all in the absence of facts, he is letting allegations stand while more fuel is poured on the fire.

If he put as much effort into leading as he does with meaningless, fluffy tweets, maybe Council could spend more time addressing important concerns such as the economic downturn that is coming due to collapsing oil prices. 

Tens of thousands of layoffs are expected. 

I wonder what his strategy is for this.

Maybe it will fall out during one of the alleged wild, alcohol-fueled parties.

And speaking of apologies …

Danielle Smith, the former Wildrose Party leader and now opportunistic PC Party ladder-climber, apologized on her Facebook page about the decision she made in leaving the Wildrose Party of Alberta. Intriguingly enough, she apologized for angering people with her decision but then went on to criticize the people who allegedly forced her hand.

It sounded like “I’m really sorry but it was someone else’s fault anyway so …..”.  Sounds like an authentic apology to me.  It is generally accepted that the “take action and beg for forgiveness later” apology is never authentic since the original intention was still achieved while the underhandedness and dishonor behind it falls into the shadows and is soon forgotten.

She went on to say how she would be honored to serve her community if elected as an MLA again.

Translation: Having demonstrated that she can dishonor the many who supported her in the past, she would like the opportunity to pull the wool over a whole new group of supporters.

It’s pretty easy to see whose interests she is serving.

Can you guess?

I’ll make it easy for you.  The list is very short.

The fact that she didn’t see betrayal as something that would upset many speaks volumes of either her intelligence to understand the will of the people or her belief that the people are not very intelligent.

Neither reflect well on her as an alleged leader in her community and province.

Goals: It's best to avoid standing directly between a competitive jerk and his goals.

Goals: It's best to avoid standing directly between a competitive jerk and his goals.

Accepting people like this as a senior player in the PC Party speaks volumes of Premier Prentice’s character as well but that’s a subject for another day.  Alberta will get a taste of his character in the next year or so as difficult times engulf the Province with the recession that has been predicted.

But it’s not just in Alberta ….

Last week in the Newfoundland and Labrador Legislature, a member of the Official Opposition made a comment during Question Period that Minister Judy Manning’s best position when it came to cost cutting was “under the table”. 

I’m surprised that women’s groups didn’t storm the legislature as a result but then again, they choose fights that suit their own needs, motives and timing.

It’s hard to believe that in the 21st century that we could have such derogatory comments made by a government official who alleges to serve as a servant to the public and as a role model to many.

What does that tell you about the state of government these days?

The Bottom Line

The world has reached a juncture where real leadership is needed to solve challenges in the areas of government spending, the economy, climate control, arms control, terrorism and other areas.

Is it any wonder that the leaders at the global level can’t seem get it done when one sees what we have at home in the form of leadership (or lack thereof)?

Do we care that such leaders form role models for our children?

Do we care that as the world burns in certain areas, that our leaders are the best we can come up with when it comes to guiding us out of difficulty and towards our unlimited potential or do we merely accept the message they are constantly espousing?

Excuses: If you keep asking others to give you the benefit of the doubt, they'll eventually start to doubt your benefit.

Excuses: If you keep asking others to give you the benefit of the doubt, they'll eventually start to doubt your benefit.

I think we should expect and demand better before things really hit the fan locally and globally (if it’s not too late already).

I also think we need leaders who serve the people and are not merely mouthpieces who serve their own interests or the interests of those who use them in return.

What do you think?

In service and servanthood.

Harry