Citizens Must Sacrifice, Too
Unfortunately, my own career has never suffered from a lack of crises from which to learn. Although I have no diplomas in business or management or even leadership, I have managed to acquire my share of scar tissue: exploding rockets, hostile takeover attempts against us, plant closings, labor strikes, program cancellations, layoffs and more.
But the most challenging--and by far the greatest learning experience in my career--occurred during a business downturn when four out of every ten people in our industry (aerospace) lost their jobs and three out of four companies ceased to exist as independent entities, or ceased to exist altogether. Everything I experienced indicated that total candor in dealing with one's associates was the best policy. Absent this, people worry about what a leader is not saying--and thus conjure in their minds events far worse than are likely to occur. People can stand bad news-- they just can't stand uncertainty. I never ceased to be amazed by how dedicated most individuals are to their responsibilities, even when an unfavorable personal outcome is almost certain.
It does help, of course, if a leader can offer a strategic vision of where a nation/organization is headed as it works its way through trying times: a little light at the end of the tunnel is indeed helpful. I believe President Obama has done a masterful job in this regard, conveying hope to all. In FDR's words, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." On the other side of the ledger, I am not certain President Obama has conveyed the extent of sacrifice and compromise all our citizens must be prepared to endure. Ironically, that lack of acceptance appears to be particularly true of our political leaders.
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