Updated American Leadership Paradox (submitted to ICF for newsletter)
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Leadership Dilemma: The American Leadership Paradox
As coaches, we aim to support the development of our clients to meet
strategic goals and to enhance overall quality of life. Coaching and Leadership intersect – In the
organizational sense; Associates want value from their leaders, and desire to
develop a co-relationship focused on achieving success. The current zeitgeist of Leadership is
trending towards acquiring specific skills that is possessed by the coaching
industry. As potential change agents, coaches must ask powerful questions about the psychological dynamics of our society at large.
•Are we at war with ourselves?
•Why are large bureaucratic organizations slow to act?
•How do we understand the complexities of the struggle?
Society demands a powerful altruistic Leader that makes quick decisions that
benefit everyone while simultaneously providing security. However, America is a nation of
individualists who strive to be the Leader, and are ashamed to be categorized
in the role of follower. Simply, American culture frowns upon the follower and the omnipotent Leader is exaggeratedly admired.
•Who do you want to be?
The Leader of course! Well, the problem is that Leaders need followers. If everyone is the Leader and no-one follows,
then there is a Leadership dilemma called The American Leadership Paradox.
1. Society wants community and togetherness, but explicitly yearns for a capitalist society with individualist freedom.
2. Society values family, but relishes in the rebel persona.
3. American culture is a paradox that attempts to indulge within both ends of the spectrum.
Leaders are unable to lead because society chooses to scoff at instead of follow. Cognitive dissonance is displayed towards
Leaders, and society at large believes they are capable of producing better results. Trust and integrity have been squandered by previous leaders which disables pre-determined respect for future Leaders.
The Nature/Nurture debate – Is it inborn or due to the situation? Current research has determined the debate to be estimated at a 50/50 split.
If there are wonderful Leaders and the situation is not conducive to leading, then the
cold-hard truth is – Leaders will fail 50% of the time regardless of inborn or
learned ability. Current Leadership is failing at an astounding rate (over
70%). What constitutes leadership failure? Short answer: Not meeting goals.
•How do we survive in a Leaderless society if our models in family,
business, politics, education, and more, require a Leader who has power that is admired and followed?
•Can we all be leaders without followers or is there another solution?
Currently, the common consensus is that: our Leaders are unethical,
self-centered, and ruining our economy! Americans,
don’t trust the government, don’t trust commercials, and in fact, place little
faith on anything. Why? Is it because Americans are horrible people, or
is it because our system is coming to a breaking point? I argue for the latter.
•Why do we tolerate unethical leadership?
•Why do some leaders act unethically?
Our individualist system funneled these leaders to the pinnacle because they
are the best players of the game our society has produced. They are tolerated because, if they are great
Leaders, elitist, and are flawed, then the individual perception interprets an
ego-boost which sends the individual’s self-esteem sky rocketing. The ego-imagination covets the positive regard
of a Leader, and an unethical Leader with praise is lesser qualified for the
role of Leader than the self. The
American Leadership Paradox!
•How do we fix the Paradox?
Fixing or modifying any paradox is a mission within
a mission, which might never be accomplished, and is why venturing out
on this journey is more than challenging. Albeit while complex, well worth the strategic
effort because Leadership is an integral part of a successful society.
Professional Leadership Coaching:
Enhancing self-awareness of cultural factors and aiding in understanding the
application of value-based Leadership. Utilizing expert coaching tools to raise
awareness and move Leaders through blinding dimensions.
As coaches, we could participate in curbing and overcoming the
deterioration of the aforementioned: American Leadership. We cannot be concerned with the system and
concentration of choosing Leaders, but rather, concentrate on the coaching role
in development which is integral to Leadership success. This article challenges
all qualified coaches to understand the dynamics of Leadership and contribute
to supporting the evolution & success of the Leadership dimension.
Keith Lawrence Miller | The Elite Coach | The Million Dollar Coaching Company | www.EliteProCoach.com | (855) My-Pro-Coach