Why Most Politicians Suck as Leaders

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Myth: "Dude, to be the greatest leader ever, I have to have the world's greatest ideas. People will love and follow me. Yay!" Blah. Blah. Oh. Blah. Listen to any political ad in this quarter-billion dollar campaign season, and you'll see a common theme:

  • "I have all the ideas."
  • "I know where to steer our city."
  • "I know how to make the state better."
  • "I know how to fix the county's education."
  • "I know how to improve the state's economy."


The best politicians are nothing but the most "charismatic" bastard sitting on his/her ivory tower hawking their ideas like they mean something.

Instead, the best leaders embrace their ignorance.

They rejoice in the statement: "I suck."

They understand they won't know every-single-freakin'-thing.

And, they'll compensate for that: they'll recruit folks who -- cue the drumroll please -- freakishly know more about improving constituents through the economy, health care, environment, small business, education, and whatever else -- than they ever, ever will.

Why Most Political "Leaders" Got it All Wrong

The freakin' media, the freakin' politicians themselves, the freakin' newspapers, the freakin' journalists make this 2006 campaign season seem as if it's a "Who-has-the-greatest-ideas?" contest.

That's why you get bad organizations run by horrible leaders: You attract people with humongous-freakin'-egos trying to come in with all the answers, thinking they're Mister Big Shot with the Big Ideas.

A typical panel discussion goes:

  1. Moderator: "How will you improve the economy?"
  2. Politician: "I'll improve the economy by...."
  3. Moderator: "And education?"
  4. Politician: "I'll improve education by..."
  5. Moderator: "And health care?"
  6. Politician: "I'll improve health care by..."

Look, Mister Big Shot: Your ideas suck.

"Oh fo' shizzle?!" First, a specialist will kick a jack-of-all-trade's ass in improving: _______. Second, your ideas rarely come to fruition.

A study by Marakon Associates and the Economist Intelligence Unit asked the leaders from the world's leading organizations how they: "developed long-range plans and how effectively they thought their planning processes drove strategic decisions." What happened? "The results of the survey confirmed what we have observed over many years of consulting: The timing and structure of strategic planning are obstacles to good decision making." Planning sucks because the planner-idea-Big-Shot-person acts as if the world's standing still for them to meticulously implement their crazy ideas. The world's moving, and if you're not catering your decisions to the moving-world, you're making lousy decisions. Harvard's Henry Mintzberg describes planning's major flaw:

According to the premises of strategic planning, the world is supposed to hold still while a plan is being developed and then stay on the predicted course while that plan is being implemented.

What the World's Greatest Leader Did

If politicians just scream from rooftops: "Dude, I don't know that much. I don't have any world-changing ideas. I just build kick-ass teams. That's why I'll get a superstar at every single freakin' position, get out of their way, and empower them to rock the world" -- we'd buy them all Carne Asada tacos. The greatest president in the mutha-flukkin world followed that philosophy: the incredibly handsome Abraham Lincoln. That cat told his people upon entering the Oval Office: Look, I know nothing; I need help. So what'd he do? He got the greatest people he could find: his fiercest rivals who likely talked about his mama during the presidential race, and gave them key positions. Lincoln filled every single freakin' important position with the best the country had to offer -- no matter the political ties. He dumped his ego to keep America intact.

Too bad we don't have too many Lincolns.

Read any political ad, and: freak, it's Me, Me, Me, Me. "I know everything. Everybody better vote for me and my ideas; my opponent's stupid." $^@!$!@@$

  • "I'm the dictator, and everything runs through me."
  • "I have all the ideas. I will get people to implement them."
  • "My opponent doesn't know anything. I do. Vote for me."

Blah. Don't lead like politicians. Your badass has so much more potential.

Embrace the "I Suck" Philosophy

When you're rocking your business, you know you won't have all the ideas. Someone out there knows something way more than you do. Your job: find and empower that person to kick-ass for that part of your business. The template for ya:

"I suck at: ___________, so I will find someone to rock at it."


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Posted on November 07

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