The Latest on Leadership

  • Wisconsin is an example of a state in which government in deadlock has become the new normal. It is also an emblem of a country in which government in deadlock has become the new normal.  Why? Because everyone thinks they should to lead; no one thinks they should follow. Ergo…  conciliation and compromise are out the window.
  • Worldwide, including in the U.S., the number of women in positions of leadership remains remarkably low. Mothering remains the paramount reason. But, solutions to the problem continue elusive. A surprising recent finding on paid leave confirms the complexity. Instead of paid leave for mothers boosting their earnings, the largest American study of its kind just found the opposite. A decade after new mothers took paid leave they worked and earned less than new mothers who did not.
  • A solution to the paucity of women in leadership roles could be job-sharing. Until now, job-sharing has always been associated with sharing jobs at lower levels – not at higher ones. Leadership and job-sharing were considered mutually exclusive and, generally, they still are. However, there is evidence that job-sharing is climbing the corporate ladder. In a tight labor market where talent and diversity are highly valued, employers are increasingly willing to consider job sharing among those in the managerial ranks.     
  • In the last three weeks, Chile has been transformed from a bastion of apparently successful capitalism – note the modifier, “apparently” – into a dystopian nightmare. Protests have been as massive as destructive and, despite repeated government concessions and capitulations, they have continued. In the last day followers got leaders to call a referendum on a new constitution. But, in the absence of any individual or institution that commands widespread respect, it is not clear that leaders giving followers what they say they want will still the roiling waters.      
  • The State Department Foreign Service Officers who testified publicly before Congress this week have seemed, alas, like nothing so much as a throwback. A throwback to a time when civility was common currency and professionalism prevailed.  As the author of a book titled, Professionalizing Leadership, let me linger on professionalism as a notion – indeed as an ideal. Frank Bruni, writing this week for the New York Times, described William Taylor, America’s top diplomat in Ukraine, as a consummate professional. Taylor has a half-century career that is “entirely about the public good.” And he is a “creature of duty and discipline and earnestly accrued knowledge.” Bruni goes on to extol the virtues of being a “true professional” – and then he adds that Donald Trump has never had the “epiphany that the presidency is, in fact, a profession.” Here’s where Bruni misses the mark. He is right to write that Trump has no conception of the presidency as a profession. But the fault, dear Frank, is not his, but ours. It is we the American people who voted for a chief executive who was the diametric opposite of a professional. Candidate Trump was as president Trump – a rank amateur clearly and completely devoid of the virtues we associate with professional experience and expertise.

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