Leadership Gaps; Too Many of Them


I’m into Gap Analysis these days for some reason. Maybe it is because I see so many! Or maybe “gap” is just another name for inconsistency, shortcoming, challenge, unseen need, miscommunication, etc. Whatever you call it, we have a lot of them these days.

The news tells it all: from nuclear disasters to political uprisings; from personally invasive TSA screening techniques to Army generals forgetting where their troops are. The common theme among all these recent events is the physical, psychological and emotional gap between those that lead and those that follow. Senators don’t go through X-ray machines at the airport. The TEPC senior management doubtfully ever visited the Fukushima plant at the level that the operators have. If so, how could these leaders allow the workers cleaning the plant to live on virtually no food for days?  Generals use to, but don’t anymore, participate in the front lines; they are too busy giving press briefings. Political leaders losing the loyalty of their countrymen demonstrate the chasm between themselves and their people at every decision; mostly, they shoot them. Company leaders take the corporate jet while their salespeople navigate the commercial airline system.

The concern is not necessarily the status quo, although it is trending poorly, but rather the IMPACT of the separation of leadership in the decision making process. Whatever happened to management by walking around? The result of this practice was a reconnection to those actually doing the work. Making decisions were done in the context of a rich understanding of the work process.

History is replete with colossal examples of separation that eventually lead to downfall. My favorite is the Medici dynasty in Italy. The Ponte Vecchio was built for the sole purpose of allowing the royalty to not have to walk with the commoners. Don’t we have a tunnel underneath the capital for the same reason?

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