By Rich Figel
Lately, I've been thinking a lot about leadership -- more precisely, the lack of it. In government. In the business world. In movements initiated by people who are fed up with one thing or the other. If an alien landed on earth and said, "Take me to your leader," who would that be?
Ever since we began work on the Career Changers TV show for OC16, I've been saving articles and columns related to managing people and businesses. There are some very smart executives and consultants who offer great advice, mostly gained from personal experience or learned from older mentors. The irony is age and experience have practically become negatives in many companies, where cutting costs often means targeting older employees. Younger workers are cheaper hires and get less benefits such as fewer vacation days. And they usually won't question their bosses, even when they should.
However, I wonder if ageism is costing companies more in the long run. I keep hearing business horror stories about younger employees who seem careless or indifferent about their jobs, and wind up making mistakes that an older, more experienced person probably wouldn't have made. More importantly, younger people are less likely to show initiative and take charge in situations that require leadership.
But can leadership qualities be taught or instilled in workers? Or is it something you develop on your own? Back when I was in my mid-20s, I was a marketing assistant at one of the largest business seminars companies in the country. They offered all kinds of courses on management skills and motivating employees. They were also one of the most poorly run companies I've ever seen, and had to file for bankruptcy. Apparently, the top execs there didn't practice what they preached.
In any event, what prompted this blog topic was a Twitter post by Jana Eggers, who I began following after reading her NY Times Corner Office interview. The other day she tweeted she was wearing one of her company's custom-message t-shirts that was inspired by an earlier NYT Corner Office interview... which she linked to and I read. You should read it too if you want some good insights on managing people in different cultures.
Below, I'm also including a link to a NYT book review for The Art of Choosing, which is about decision-making. When you get right down to it, good leaders and managers are better at solving problems and giving clear directions. There's a methodology to making good choices.
What say you? Are you a leader or a follower?
NY Times Corner Office interview link, Managing Globally, and Locally.
"Indecision-Making" review of book that says more choice actually leads to less satisfaction and less happiness.
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