Skip to comments.Where Have All the Leaders Gone? (Lee Iacocca)
Posted on 05/02/2007 10:04:46 AM PDT by Responsibility2nd
Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with what's happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, "Stay the course."
Stay the course? You've got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned Titanic. I'll give you a sound bite: Throw the bums out!
You might think I'm getting senile, that I've gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore. The President of the United States is given a free pass to ignore the Constitution, tap our phones, and lead us to war on a pack of lies. Congress responds to record deficits by passing a huge tax cut for the wealthy (thanks, but I don't need it). The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we're fiddling in Iraq, the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving pom-poms instead of asking hard questions. That's not the promise of America my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for. I've had enough. How about you?
I'll go a step further. You can't call yourself a patriot if you're not outraged. This is a fight I'm ready and willing to have.
My friends tell me to calm down. They say, "Lee, you're eighty-two years old. Leave the rage to the young people." I'd love toas soon as I can pry them away from their iPods for five seconds and get them to pay attention. I'm going to speak up because it's my patriotic duty. I think people will listen to me. They say I have a reputation as a straight shooter. So I'll tell you how I see it, and it's not pretty, but at least it's real. I'm hoping to strike a nerve in those young folks who say they don't vote because they don't trust politicians to represent their interests. Hey, America, wake up. These guys work for us.
Who Are These Guys, Anyway?
Why are we in this mess? How did we end up with this crowd in Washington? Well, we voted for themor at least some of us did. But I'll tell you what we didn't do. We didn't agree to suspend the Constitution. We didn't agree to stop asking questions or demanding answers. Some of us are sick and tired of people who call free speech treason. Where I come from that's a dictatorship, not a democracy.
And don't tell me it's all the fault of right-wing Republicans or liberal Democrats. That's an intellectually lazy argument, and it's part of the reason we're in this stew. We're not just a nation of factions. We're a people. We share common principles and ideals. And we rise and fall together.
Where are the voices of leaders who can inspire us to action and make us stand taller? What happened to the strong and resolute party of Lincoln? What happened to the courageous, populist party of FDR and Truman? There was a time in this country when the voices of great leaders lifted us up and made us want to do better. Where have all the leaders gone?
The Test of a Leader
I've never been Commander in Chief, but I've been a CEO. I understand a few things about leadership at the top. I've figured out nine pointsnot ten (I don't want people accusing me of thinking I'm Moses). I call them the "Nine Cs of Leadership." They're not fancy or complicated. Just clear, obvious qualities that every true leader should have. We should look at how the current administration stacks up. Like it or not, this crew is going to be around until January 2009. Maybe we can learn something before we go to the polls in 2008. Then let's be sure we use the leadership test to screen the candidates who say they want to run the country. It's up to us to choose wisely.
So, here's my C list:
A leader has to show CURIOSITY. He has to listen to people outside of the "Yes, sir" crowd in his inner circle. He has to read voraciously, because the world is a big, complicated place. George W. Bush brags about never reading a newspaper. "I just scan the headlines," he says. Am I hearing this right? He's the President of the United States and he never reads a newspaper? Thomas Jefferson once said, "Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate for a moment to prefer the latter." Bush disagrees. As long as he gets his daily hour in the gym, with Fox News piped through the sound system, he's ready to go.
If a leader never steps outside his comfort zone to hear different ideas, he grows stale. If he doesn't put his beliefs to the test, how does he know he's right? The inability to listen is a form of arrogance. It means either you think you already know it all, or you just don't care. Before the 2006 election, George Bush made a big point of saying he didn't listen to the polls. Yeah, that's what they all say when the polls stink. But maybe he should have listened, because 70 percent of the people were saying he was on the wrong track. It took a "thumping" on election day to wake him up, but even then you got the feeling he wasn't listening so much as he was calculating how to do a better job of convincing everyone he was right.
A leader has to be CREATIVE, go out on a limb, be willing to try something different. You know, think outside the box. George Bush prides himself on never changing, even as the world around him is spinning out of control. God forbid someone should accuse him of flip-flopping. There's a disturbingly messianic fervor to his certainty. Senator Joe Biden recalled a conversation he had with Bush a few months after our troops marched into Baghdad. Joe was in the Oval Office outlining his concerns to the Presidentthe explosive mix of Shiite and Sunni, the disbanded Iraqi army, the problems securing the oil fields. "The President was serene," Joe recalled. "He told me he was sure that we were on the right course and that all would be well. 'Mr. President,' I finally said, 'how can you be so sure when you don't yet know all the facts?'" Bush then reached over and put a steadying hand on Joe's shoulder. "My instincts," he said. "My instincts." Joe was flabbergasted. He told Bush, "Mr. President, your instincts aren't good enough." Joe Biden sure didn't think the matter was settled. And, as we all know now, it wasn't.
Leadership is all about managing changewhether you're leading a company or leading a country. Things change, and you get creative. You adapt. Maybe Bush was absent the day they covered that at Harvard Business School.
A leader has to COMMUNICATE. I'm not talking about running off at the mouth or spouting sound bites. I'm talking about facing reality and telling the truth. Nobody in the current administration seems to know how to talk straight anymore. Instead, they spend most of their time trying to convince us that things are not really as bad as they seem. I don't know if it's denial or dishonesty, but it can start to drive you crazy after a while. Communication has to start with telling the truth, even when it's painful. The war in Iraq has been, among other things, a grand failure of communication. Bush is like the boy who didn't cry wolf when the wolf was at the door. After years of being told that all is well, even as the casualties and chaos mount, we've stopped listening to him.
A leader has to be a person of CHARACTER. That means knowing the difference between right and wrong and having the guts to do the right thing. Abraham Lincoln once said, "If you want to test a man's character, give him power." George Bush has a lot of power. What does it say about his character? Bush has shown a willingness to take bold action on the world stage because he has the power, but he shows little regard for the grievous consequences. He has sent our troops (not to mention hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens) to their deathsfor what? To build our oil reserves? To avenge his daddy because Saddam Hussein once tried to have him killed? To show his daddy he's tougher? The motivations behind the war in Iraq are questionable, and the execution of the war has been a disaster. A man of character does not ask a single soldier to die for a failed policy.
A leader must have COURAGE. I'm talking about balls. (That even goes for female leaders.) Swagger isn't courage. Tough talk isn't courage. George Bush comes from a blue-blooded Connecticut family, but he likes to talk like a cowboy. You know, My gun is bigger than your gun. Courage in the twenty-first century doesn't mean posturing and bravado. Courage is a commitment to sit down at the negotiating table and talk.
If you're a politician, courage means taking a position even when you know it will cost you votes. Bush can't even make a public appearance unless the audience has been handpicked and sanitized. He did a series of so-called town hall meetings last year, in auditoriums packed with his most devoted fans. The questions were all softballs.
To be a leader you've got to have CONVICTIONa fire in your belly. You've got to have passion. You've got to really want to get something done. How do you measure fire in the belly? Bush has set the all-time record for number of vacation days taken by a U.S. Presidentfour hundred and counting. He'd rather clear brush on his ranch than immerse himself in the business of governing. He even told an interviewer that the high point of his presidency so far was catching a seven-and-a-half-pound perch in his hand-stocked lake.
It's no better on Capitol Hill. Congress was in session only ninety-seven days in 2006. That's eleven days less than the record set in 1948, when President Harry Truman coined the term do-nothing Congress. Most people would expect to be fired if they worked so little and had nothing to show for it. But Congress managed to find the time to vote itself a raise. Now, that's not leadership.
A leader should have CHARISMA. I'm not talking about being flashy. Charisma is the quality that makes people want to follow you. It's the ability to inspire. People follow a leader because they trust him. That's my definition of charisma. Maybe George Bush is a great guy to hang out with at a barbecue or a ball game. But put him at a global summit where the future of our planet is at stake, and he doesn't look very presidential. Those frat-boy pranks and the kidding around he enjoys so much don't go over that well with world leaders. Just ask German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who received an unwelcome shoulder massage from our President at a G-8 Summit. When he came up behind her and started squeezing, I thought she was going to go right through the roof.
A leader has to be COMPETENT. That seems obvious, doesn't it? You've got to know what you're doing. More important than that, you've got to surround yourself with people who know what they're doing. Bush brags about being our first MBA President. Does that make him competent? Well, let's see. Thanks to our first MBA President, we've got the largest deficit in history, Social Security is on life support, and we've run up a half-a-trillion-dollar price tag (so far) in Iraq. And that's just for starters. A leader has to be a problem solver, and the biggest problems we face as a nation seem to be on the back burner.
You can't be a leader if you don't have COMMON SENSE. I call this Charlie Beacham's rule. When I was a young guy just starting out in the car business, one of my first jobs was as Ford's zone manager in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. My boss was a guy named Charlie Beacham, who was the East Coast regional manager. Charlie was a big Southerner, with a warm drawl, a huge smile, and a core of steel. Charlie used to tell me, "Remember, Lee, the only thing you've got going for you as a human being is your ability to reason and your common sense. If you don't know a dip of horseshit from a dip of vanilla ice cream, you'll never make it." George Bush doesn't have common sense. He just has a lot of sound bites. You knowMr.they'll-welcome-us-as-liberators-no-child-left-behind-heck-of-a-job-Brownie-mission-accomplished Bush.
Former President Bill Clinton once said, "I grew up in an alcoholic home. I spent half my childhood trying to get into the reality-based worldand I like it here."
I think our current President should visit the real world once in a while.
The Biggest C is Crisis
Leaders are made, not born. Leadership is forged in times of crisis. It's easy to sit there with your feet up on the desk and talk theory. Or send someone else's kids off to war when you've never seen a battlefield yourself. It's another thing to lead when your world comes tumbling down.
On September 11, 2001, we needed a strong leader more than any other time in our history. We needed a steady hand to guide us out of the ashes. Where was George Bush? He was reading a story about a pet goat to kids in Florida when he heard about the attacks. He kept sitting there for twenty minutes with a baffled look on his face. It's all on tape. You can see it for yourself. Then, instead of taking the quickest route back to Washington and immediately going on the air to reassure the panicked people of this country, he decided it wasn't safe to return to the White House. He basically went into hiding for the dayand he told Vice President Dick Cheney to stay put in his bunker. We were all frozen in front of our TVs, scared out of our wits, waiting for our leaders to tell us that we were going to be okay, and there was nobody home. It took Bush a couple of days to get his bearings and devise the right photo op at Ground Zero.
That was George Bush's moment of truth, and he was paralyzed. And what did he do when he'd regained his composure? He led us down the road to Iraqa road his own father had considered disastrous when he was President. But Bush didn't listen to Daddy. He listened to a higher father. He prides himself on being faith based, not reality based. If that doesn't scare the crap out of you, I don't know what will.
A Hell of a Mess
So here's where we stand. We're immersed in a bloody war with no plan for winning and no plan for leaving. We're running the biggest deficit in the history of the country. We're losing the manufacturing edge to Asia, while our once-great companies are getting slaughtered by health care costs. Gas prices are skyrocketing, and nobody in power has a coherent energy policy. Our schools are in trouble. Our borders are like sieves. The middle class is being squeezed every which way. These are times that cry out for leadership.
But when you look around, you've got to ask: "Where have all the leaders gone?" Where are the curious, creative communicators? Where are the people of character, courage, conviction, competence, and common sense? I may be a sucker for alliteration, but I think you get the point.
Name me a leader who has a better idea for homeland security than making us take off our shoes in airports and throw away our shampoo? We've spent billions of dollars building a huge new bureaucracy, and all we know how to do is react to things that have already happened.
Name me one leader who emerged from the crisis of Hurricane Katrina. Congress has yet to spend a single day evaluating the response to the hurricane, or demanding accountability for the decisions that were made in the crucial hours after the storm. Everyone's hunkering down, fingers crossed, hoping it doesn't happen again. Now, that's just crazy. Storms happen. Deal with it. Make a plan. Figure out what you're going to do the next time.
Name me an industry leader who is thinking creatively about how we can restore our competitive edge in manufacturing. Who would have believed that there could ever be a time when "the Big Three" referred to Japanese car companies? How did this happenand more important, what are we going to do about it?
Name me a government leader who can articulate a plan for paying down the debt, or solving the energy crisis, or managing the health care problem. The silence is deafening. But these are the crises that are eating away at our country and milking the middle class dry.
I have news for the gang in Congress. We didn't elect you to sit on your asses and do nothing and remain silent while our democracy is being hijacked and our greatness is being replaced with mediocrity. What is everybody so afraid of? That some bobblehead on Fox News will call them a name? Give me a break. Why don't you guys show some spine for a change?
Hey, I'm not trying to be the voice of gloom and doom here. I'm trying to light a fire. I'm speaking out because I have hope. I believe in America. In my lifetime I've had the privilege of living through some of America's greatest moments. I've also experienced some of our worst crisesthe Great Depression, World War II, the Korean War, the Kennedy assassination, the Vietnam War, the 1970s oil crisis, and the struggles of recent years culminating with 9/11. If I've learned one thing, it's this: You don't get anywhere by standing on the sidelines waiting for somebody else to take action. Whether it's building a better car or building a better future for our children, we all have a role to play. That's the challenge I'm raising in this book. It's a call to action for people who, like me, believe in America. It's not too late, but it's getting pretty close. So let's shake off the horseshit and go to work. Let's tell 'em all we've had enough.
Hey, I thought Iacocca was going to give us 9-steps the president should take.
Instead, he just complained about President Bush. Iacocca
must like Pelosi’s leadership, LOL.
This is wrong, and stupid, and evil on many levels.
“...don’t tell me it’s all the fault of right-wing Republicans or liberal Democrats.”
...and then he goes on to BLAST President Bush about EVERYTHING.
This guy belongs in the glue factory.
‘How much you wanna bet he took that tax break and never gave it back?’
Yep. And, bet when he was the head of his Company, he wasn’t too concerned with the amount of the raises the ‘average Joe or Jane’ got....bet he didn’t offer to share his mega million salary or bonus with the little people.
These self righteous guys just kill me.......like all the politicians, looking for votes, who say......’well, people who have been here illegally are here and have been for a long time, so just let them stay’. Ok, so, Sen. Graham, next time you’re on vacation for a month and someone moves into your house, guess you’ll just let them stay since ‘they’re there already’.
Many wrong things to say in front of this crowd, sounds like a cross between Imus & Soros.
He also said "I read no newspaper now but Ritchie's, and in that chiefly the advertisements, for they contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper." - Thomas Jefferson Letter to Nathaniel Macon January 12 1819.
Why should the President sit down and read the NY Times' spin on what is happening with the war when he can call up a general instead? Why should he read what USA Today's said about Dr. Rice's latest statement when he can talk to her directly? Why should he read the Washington Post's version of a leaked intelligence memo when he can just read the original DNC talking points on it? Modern day "journalism" has fallen so far back into it's history of yellow journalism that there isn't much to be gained from it anymore.
Iacocca supported John Kerry in 2004.
Iacocca openly criticized former President Reagan in the mid-1980s for growing budget deficits, saying government spending was “getting out of hand” — a criticism Kerry frequently levels at Bush.
I hope senility doesn't affect me that way! LOL
Iacocca sounds like the Webmaster over at Moveon.org.
senility old age doesn't affect me that way! LOL
And almost as ugly!
There is truth to what he’s saying. I’ve said the same things myself in a different way. We have Liberal traitors in Congress destroying our country in their quest for power and destroying our futures for the sake of their egos. We have a GOP leaderhsip that’s looking for their gonads while the Liberals are sticking it to them. Meanwhile, we have enemies that openly tell us that they want us dead. We have a president that has yet to confront the Liberals that have been calling him a liar for six years. We have Americans that have been brainwashed by the Liberal-biased MSM; we have immigrants pouring uncontrollably into our country; we have our Constitution being destroyed. No one seems to care. Where is the outrage and where has the American fighting spirit gone? The American people better wake up before we have nothing to salvage.
Where are the voices of leaders who can inspire us to action and make us stand taller?
He’s a stumble bum who never spent enough of his fortune to hire an expert to help him (1.) Formulate his thoughts before he speaks, and (2.) Speak clearly, thinking before stumbling around looking for words, and (3.) get over the stupid accent.
Otherwise, he COULD have been a leader. Life turns on seemingly small things.
I thought he was dead.
Incompetentcy in politics and business are rewarded with promotions or golden parachutes. Our business leaders are without innovation and succeed only by outsourcing America. Our end result is a campaign between Clinton and Giuliani - a more worthless choice for America can't be imagined.
The rest to follow.
I didn’t know Iacocca was such a lib.
You might think I’m getting senile, that I’ve gone off my rocker Uhm, yep.
They say I have a reputation as a straight shooter No. you have a reputation of driving corporations to bankruptcy and coercing the federal government to bail you out with my money!
Where have all the leaders gone?
They are being dumbed down by the public schools.
They are being held back by affirmative action quotas.
They are discriminated against by liberals for their principles, character and work ethic.
They are in the schools, factories, home. They are here.
They are in the military, they are in the Churches, they are here but are ignored by the MSM, liberals and America....and thus silenced. (Well said - thanks for the quote)
A leader has to show CURIOSITY. [ ] George W. Bush brags about never reading a newspaper.
A nonsensical canard. The newspapers published in this country are typically unfit to line birdcages or catch puppy poop. There is no reason for anyone, more or less the leader of the free world, to read or trust them. The President gets daily briefings from people that actually have facts, not the opinions expressed in the MSM. Id rather him lead based on those.
A leader has to COMMUNICATE. [ ] After years of being told that all is well, even as the casualties and chaos mount, we’ve stopped listening to him.
Unfortunately this opinion, and all of the nonsense associated with it, is founded on the wholesale bullshit shoveled out by the MSM and left-wing radicals. No, the war in Iraq isnt going swimmingly but its not nearly as bad as the media and the left want us to believe. Ive talked to (emailed with, really) troops on the ground. I know whats real and none of that is represented in the papers.
A leader has to be a person of CHARACTER. That means knowing the difference between right and wrong and having the guts to do the right thing.
Even when idiots who havent got a clue (the media, liberals and others) are telling you that right is wrong. Like it or not the war in Iraq was necessary and is a part of the overall war against global terrorism and islamo-fascism.
A leader must have COURAGE. [ ] Courage is a commitment to sit down at the negotiating table and talk.
No, courage is knowing when talk is not going to work and knowing that only war will. Who, pray tell, should Bush be talking to? Maybe we should send Lee out to chat with Osama Bin Ladin. Im sure his beheading would make a popular youtube video.
To be a leader you’ve got to have CONVICTION So pursuing an unpopular but necessary war faced with public disapproval doesnt constitute conviction? What does?
A leader should have CHARISMA - Bush has enough to get elected twice. Not a lot, mind you, but enough.
A leader has to be COMPETENT. [ ] Thanks to our first MBA President,
we’ve got the largest deficit in history
Social Security is on life support
Social Security is a liberal wealth-redistribution program. It should be scrapped altogether. Bush tried to fix it but was rebuffed by Congress mostly by liberals.
we’ve run up a half-a-trillion-dollar price tag (so far) in Iraq.
Which is nothing compared to the tens of trillions wasted on worthless and downright illegal government programs and jobs: Welfare, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the NEA and on and on.
This war has been cheap as compared to the alternative. I wouldnt count on a liberal to understand that, though.
You can’t be a leader if you don’t have COMMON SENSE
Bush may be lacking some, but dimocrats have absolutely none.
Ive covered this before, but heres the typical democrats way of thinking:
How to cure poverty: Steal from productive members of society and pay unproductive types to sit on their asses. This only encourages poverty and expands the welfare roles.
How to cure discrimination: Discriminate against a different group of people.
How to deal with global terrorism and a bloc that wants every American dead? try them in the courts. Thatll fix em!
Any group of people who believes that the government is a solution and not the problem has proven that they have absolutely no common sense. Period.
The Biggest C is Crisis Leaders are made, not born
The above followed up by a steaming pile of Michael Moore based manure - deleted for brevity. The President did little wrong on 9/11 or 9/12 and he did far, far better than any democrat would have under the same circumstances.
Under the same circumstances the insane idol Algore would still be sitting on the floor in a corner rocking back and forth in a pool of his own urine while mumbling incoherently. We may not have had the best leader in place on that fateful day, but we had the better of our choices; without a doubt.
“Where have all the leaders gone?” Where are the curious, creative communicators? Where are the people of character, courage, conviction, competence, and common sense?
They are still around, but none are stupid enough to get into politics. Theyd have to deal with the idiots on the left and in the media and theres no overcoming that.
Name me a leader who has a better idea for homeland security than making us take off our shoes in airports and throw away our shampoo?
Me start profiling terrorists and stop taking infants and grandmothers aside for strip-searches. Allow pilots, flight crews and private citizens with CCWs to board aircraft with their firearms. How long do you think the next hijacking would last if even a couple of passengers and/or crew were armed?
Name me one leader who emerged from the crisis of Hurricane Katrina.
None and none needed to. It is not the governments place to intervene in situations like this. If youre stupid enough to live on a flood plain and not have insurance and not leave when youre told then good riddance.
Name me an industry leader who is thinking creatively about how we can restore our competitive edge in manufacturing.
Again, me. Heres the answer: destroy the unions now and allow corporations to hire people competitively once again. When our manufacturing giants are paying a realistic wages (as opposed to $65/hour to screw in a bolt) again theyll be competitive. When people can be fired from their now union jobs for incompetence the quality of our products will go up.
Also, lower taxes dramatically across the board. Our current 40%+ tax rate is an anchor dragging on the economy. Gut the government, dispose of all of the unconstitutional, inefficient and useless programs and let the people keep their money. Thats how to succeed.
Name me a government leader who can articulate a plan for paying down the debt
Me again. See above. Eliminate all socialist programs, Cut spending to the bone and then cut it in half every four years for a couple of decades. The debt will be gone in no time.
solving the energy crisis
This has nothing to do with the government.
managing the health care problem
Again, not in the government’s purview.
these are the crises that are eating away at our country and milking the middle class dry
No, its liberal wealth redistribution programs doing that. These crises are just a symptom - if that.
Hey, I’m not trying to be the voice of gloom and doom here.
But youre succeeding in being the voice of sheer stupidity.
Whether it’s building a better car
You mean like the Reliant K?
Let’s tell ‘em all we’ve had enough.
Ive been saying that weve had enough of liberalism/socialism/communism for years. Ill keep saying it, too, until morons like you just go away.
Iacocca supported John Kerry in 2004 and bad mouthed President Reagon.
What has Iacocca ever done to show he has an inkling at fighting terrorist or leading this country. If he has solutions to solve our many problems then let him tell us what those solutions are.
Anyone can bash the president, scream, rant and rage.