Did power corrupt leaders who are mean-spirited, petty and mismanage resources? Or does power give them opportunity to demonstrate how corrupt they already were?
Power Drunk People
The Three-Dimensional Leader: Negotiating Your Mission, Resources and Context, asks: “What is the difference between someone who is intoxicated on power and someone who is on drugs or alcohol?
You get erratic behaviors from both, including loss of mission focus, lying and mismanagement.
Government Going Astray
Government officials who think, “It’s all about my political ideologies,” pursue initiatives that are less effective than those who see themselves as managers of large organizations that need to be operationally efficient. One-dimensional politicians think the organization should serve them. Two-dimensional leaders believe a political ideology is the mission. Believing their political ideology is an end in itself, they see nothing wrong with pursuing it by running up huge deficits, saddling future generations with insurmountable debt.
As long as employees are pursuing a political agenda, whatever means they engage in is justified. Thus, whoever spouts the preferred ideology gets a free pass and is not held accountable for poor behavior. Three-dimensional political leaders act as CEO’s who take responsibility for government programs to operate efficiently with employees who work competently with integrity.
Big and powerful governments do great damage when their leaders make mistakes, like going to war on false pretenses, or spending millions and billions pursuing slogan-like initiatives in the name of a “common good” that only favors a sub-segment de jour that satisfies the paternalism of politicians or those whose money buys their support.
Properly Presiding In Power
Character is needed to handle power properly. Three-dimensional politicians work so that approximately eighty percent of constituents are satisfied with their initiatives. Keeping a long range view of fulfilling the mission by maintaining healthy working relationships that are disciplined and achieve effective operations avoids the Peter Principle and satisfies the most reasonable members of “We the People.”
Politicians tend to appoint to government’s most influential decision-making positions their family members, friends, paramours, significant others, chief donors and key supporters. These people often see that their main mission is to help their politicians gain the name recognition they need to continue to get elected to office every two to four years. Consequently, many appointees use their positions to dream up costly, politically motivated initiatives designed to make a headline or photo opportunity for them and their politicians. The initiatives make great sound bites, but in reality often lack not only a working knowledge of available resources but also the contextual awareness and detail to coordinate the various operational elements to make programs effective.
As a former statewide government program administrator, I improved underperforming government services by instilling pride and focussing employees on performance and productivity processes. The Three-Dimensional Leader: Negotiating Your Mission, Resources and Context explains that government has challenges with efficiency often because its leaders only function within two of the three MRC essentials necessary to achieve effective operations.
Even simple things are overlooked like coordinating the job titles and partner relationships that are necessary to provide services in ways that deliver meaningful outcomes to the public. While many appointees can recite a government agency’s mission statement, their behaviors painfully demonstrate to gifted and skilled civil servants that they have no actual experience in what they are tasked to manage or oversee.
The new initiatives often are out of synch with why the program was established, and how it was set up to operate. The heavy handed way appointees tend to go about implementing them demonstrates the lack of people skills and leadership abilities necessary to effectively coordinate large numbers of people across multiple departments. Many a civil servant has been idled as a result.
The Solyndra bankruptcy shows how one and two-dimensional leadership decisions miss the mark for the Obama administration, the company and the nation. One-Dimensional leadership is all about “me” not the mission. Two-dimensional leadership sets up “us vs. them” dynamics, and three-dimensional leadership focuses on “we,” as in “we the people.”
The Three-Dimensional Leader: Negotiating Your Mission, Resources and Context (MRC) focuses leaders on behavioral and character traits necessary to achieve the three essentials that contribute to organizational success. Three-dimensional leaders consistently focus on the mission and get people at all levels of the organization to do likewise. Properly focused leaders negotiate the context appropriately to deploy resources and continually align them so employees can succeed at their jobs. Thus their organizations have a high potential to succeed.
The federal government should see the big picture context of “we the people.” By investing in a private enterprise, everyone concerned looses sight of the mission. Solyndra should have focused on the mission of designing a business whose products and pricing would appeal to customers. Instead it focused on lobbying the government for money. The government should not be creating “us vs. them” situations by pitting one private company against the others. The mission of government is to do what is in the best interest of “we, the people.” It should not be betting on winers and losers in the marketplace.
When governments and private companies put their individual interests, above our collective interest, it’s “we the people” who lose. The Obama administration’s Solyndra scandal is a self-centered solicitous affair that is two-dimensional at best. Since the company head was a fund raiser for Obama, however, it appears the funding was a quid pro quo that benefitted them at the expense of US.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. embodied the synthesis of mission, vision, and values into a strategic plan. Here is an excerpt from chapter two of The Three-Dimensional Leader: Negotiating Your Mission, Resources and Context
- Dr. King’s mission was equality.
- His vision was expressed beautifully in his “I Have a Dream” speech.
- And his values were nonviolence.
A strategic plan says, “We will use these resources to accomplish this mission that will get us to our vision as we pursue it with these values.”
As a leader, Dr. King successfully rallied people to the mission of equality. The values of nonviolence fueled the operational engine that propelled the people of his organization to persevere by focusing on achieving the vision of nonviolent revolution. Once volunteers rallied to the cause, Dr. King focused them on the organization’s values—so much so that his marchers faced violent and murderous opposition in the most hostile environments, yet they persevered in carrying out the organization’s mission with the values of nonviolence.
Dr. King embodied three-dimensional leadership. He keenly understood the mission, and passionately articulated a vision to achieve it. King stated his mission and vision so clearly that it was easy for people to follow him, to see what he was talking about, and to believe that if he could do it, they also could. He organized people and resources around a set of values that they consistently lived and applied. King helped his followers negotiate the hostile context as a team that often locked arms together and sang “We Shall Overcome!” The America we live in today is in large part the fruition of the vision—the Dream, which was the focus of Dr. King’s life.
Are you following Dr. King’s example and embodying the mission, vision, and values of your organization?
The Three-Dimensional Leader: Negotiating Your Mission, Resources and Context gives us a scalable reference for understanding good and poor leadership. Here’s how the template or paradigm applies to rating and assessing leaders in government.
When government in America operates from a three-dimensional perspective: it sees its mission is to facilitate a set of circumstances that make it favorable for our nation’s chief resource, which is “We the People,” to use our talents, gifts and abilities to innovate goods and services that others find useful and beneficial and are willing to pay us a profitable price to obtain and enjoy. The context that good government must keep in focus is the U.S. Constitution, which is based upon Biblical values.
A three-dimensional government leader keeps a long term focus on this mission, resources and context, or these MRC’s. When government leaders operate from a two-dimensional perspective they only get a bearing on just one or two of these MRC concepts. Worse yet, one-dimensional government leaders think that everything that takes place within the American economy has to include them, their “input and/or control. One-dimensional leadership is all about “me” – not the mission of enabling “we the people.”
One and Two-Dimensional leaders set up “us vs. them” dynamics. They appeal for votes separating us into individual groups of hyphenated-Americans, divided by race, ethnicity and behaviors. They promise us “African-Americans” rights we already have as Americans, and which undermine “we the people” seeing ourselves as “one nation under God.” For instance, I do not need a special law saying you can’t hit me because I am black, because we already have laws that say you can’t assault me.
Responsible and astute government leaders and citizens keep the big picture MRC’s in focus.