Being A Leader Is More Than Fancy Shoes

The wolf is at the door.

Well, actually, the wolf has broken down the door. He's lying on your couch, eating the last can of beans from your pantry and running up your cable bill by watching pay-per-view movies. Plus, he's shedding fur all over the place.

But who is this wolf who's intruded into your life? Let's start with the leader of the pack.

It could be your president, your governor, your mayor. But most likely the wolf on your couch is a senior executive from a company that just announced it's shutting down a plant, closing an office, or laying off workers. Not content with that, he's now eating your lunch.

The people who run this country and the people who run the companies that keep this country running have failed us as leaders. They forgot, while they were lining their pockets, that the workers who were producing their wealth deserved a little of it, too. And now that things have gone south, why is it that accountability means that the guy on the assembly line, or in the back office or the storeroom floor gets the ax, and the executives responsible just get to cover their...axes?

Ordinary Americans get angry when a wolf is eating their lunch. And ordinary Americans have a strong sense of right and wrong, and of justice. If too many of those folks see too many wolves continuing to thrive while they suffer, things could get ugly. Fast.

So here's some advice to the executives who thought good leadership just meant wearing expensive shoes. First, put on some sheep's clothing. Park, or sell the car that is worth more than the homes your workers live in. Start flying commercial. Cut your salary and bonuses from 700 times what your average worker makes to maybe 10. Learn to be contrite.

And before you close an office, shutter a plant or fire a worker and tear apart the social fabric of the nation, imagine a big, ugly group of those fired workers swarming into your penthouse or occupying your little 26-bedroom getaway in the Hamptons. Do you really want THOSE people in your pool.

You made things worse. You can make things better.

A man who knew something about leadership, the Rev. Martin Luther King, once said, "The time is always right to do what is right."

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