Listen to the media blasting us 24/7.  You hear that the sky is falling and we’re doomed to fail.  This in turn is fed to people within your organization and translated into the words and circumstances each of us hears and faces every day.  How are you choosing to respond to the words and the news?

Deja Vu

Are we in a place we’ve never experienced before?  Maybe?  Are there circumstances like the national deficit that we should be outraged about?  Most definitely.  Will our society find creative solutions from people of influence to ride out the waves that seem overwhelming?  Absolutely!

From an economic perspective the great generation experienced and led our society out of a very turbulent, depressing, and unforgiving time.  I have listened to my grandparents stories, and observed how that period of time shaped their lives.  There are days that I wish they were still here to talk to.  Unfortunately, I was living for the moment and more concerned about me to listen and learn all I could from them.

And it’s not just the economy, but the political leadership, the greed of our corporate leaders, and the lack of tolerance across our society.  I was shocked to read and see the recent video of the transit policement who recently shot a young man in cold blood.  What was in the officer’s mind that he felt this was the best decision he had to choose from?

Emerging Whispers

I’m hearing more and more leaders and families say enough is enough.  They’ve chosen to stop the flow of negativity.  In part, I believe this is because they are tired of hearing the same, depressing news over and over and over again each night.  They turn their TV off when the news is being reported.  Newspaper subscriptions are being cancelled.  News has become editorial, and editorial has become sensationalized.

Of course, I am overgeneralizing.  We do have news outlets, and incredible integrity in reporters at every level of our economy.  I am ready to search them out. 

What I am beginning to pick up from people that is more unspoken than whisper is that they are not only choosing to eliminate the sensationalized negative, but that they believe there are stories that are out there and need to be heard.  They are not only tuning out with one ear; but seeking, tuning in and appreciating the silent majority who have it right, who make incredible decisions, who lead with integrity.

Personal Impact

This runs parrallel to the philosophy and purpose of our work as a firm, and how I choose to lead.  There are high profile cases where people have made disasterous decisions, and put everyone around them in a horrible situation.  At the same time, people come to work with good intentions, with an understanding of completing what they have been asked to do, of helping with the serious dilemma’s of the time.

Sadly, in many organizations, at many levels, the system and the unfortunate has beat the people down.  They have tried, they have risked something, only to be treated poorly by the system and those in power.  Many people have checked out of our organizations.  Now we try to engage them, and see how tough it is the second, third, or fourth time to win over their confidence.  As leaders, we wonder why it’s so hard.

Even sadder is that many business owners and executives are either in the same place or avoiding the risk of making a tough decision, sticking their neck out or taking a calculated risk.

The system will beat a good person 99% of the time.  Where is your organization and the leadership you have in place?

Remember the Context

Broadcast journalist Tom Brokaw wrote in his 1998 book, The Greatest Generation, “this is the greatest generation any society has produced.  He reported that the men and women fought not for fame and recognition, but because it was the right thing to do.

This past Sunday I listened to Ben Stein of the CBS Morning News tell stories of friends and colleagues he knew first hand who were depressed, out of work and in extreme personal circumstances.  As he talked about some of them being brought to their knees, he reminded all of us listening that this too would pass, that our society would not tolerate or accept these conditions for long, and that we all needed to remember that jobs were not our personal identity and the value we offer to others around us.  How true!

Choose Wisely

I choose to believe that organization and business leaders will step up and be more vocal about their perspective, intentions and choices.  What they talk about will not be new, nor will it be done to bring media attention to their organization.  I believe that self-reflection will bring out the strength in people.  The crucible we live through helps us to remember not only the urgent but the important.

Several years ago I made a decision to create a leadership development firm that works with these inspiring and committed leaders; those who choose the high road; those leaders who accept their role and do the right thing, those who believe that growth can be done without the intent of greed.  We help them choose the right path, and offer them support through development, coaching and action.

We are not the right firm for everyone.  Leaders have to be ready to lead and commit to such action.  These leaders will remind us of the greatest generation that emerged from World War II and the great depression.  They will have their own time, they will turn the tide and we will do everything we can to help them.

Where are you in your leadership life cycle?  Has your crucible been significant enough to test your character?  Are you ready to step out in front of the crowd to accept the role that comes without guarantee?