A colleague shared with me the other day the term “passive patriot.” A passive patriot is a citizen who fails to combine knowledge and action to maintain democracy. The research behind this is expansive, and certainly beyond the focus of this blog. However, what I couldn’t shake from my mind is the parallel to the current state of leadership in our organizations.
We have too many passive leaders failing to shift away from applying 20th century management practices to 21st century problems:
- Global talent shortage
- Hemorrhaging knowledge loss
- Weak employee engagement
- Global competition
- Scalable barriers to entry previously dominated by large corporations
- Technology fueled collaboration
Such problems cannot be solved relying on the familiar. Whether it be hierarchy, too much work, not enough time, not enough resources, the reasons for passive leadership are convincing and believable.
Yet the level of inaction at the leadership level to tackle such problems is weakening organizations. In the 21st century knowledge and the application of it to create value for customers is king. Underlying this reality is the acceptance that people create the profit. Without knowledgable, enthused people, profits will suffer.
Will you or your company be lulled to sleep by passive leadership and erode your value in the marketplace? Chase away talented employees?
We need today more leaders willing to act first and then figure out what’s next. You can be one of them. Perhaps you already are. Many of the big problems facing businesses will simply expand in complexity the longer they are ignored.
You don’t need a CEO, executive, or a director to inspire you to get into action and do something to address the company’s problems. You can decided today to lead locally: lead your team to figure out what problems are limiting the value you create for your customers. And then find a solution.
Getting your hand slapped is a requirement in leadership. It’s a full contact sport. It’s standing for something bigger than yourself. Tackling 21st century business problems is worth getting your hand slapped over. It’s worth finding and using your voice.
It begins with looking at where your passive leadership is holding you back and deciding where you can turn up the volume in your leadership.
Graphic by Shawn Murphy