Friday, March 20, 2009

Leaders Can’t Be Adrenaline Junkies

I wish we could say the millions of hours of lost productivity and distraction last week, caused by the sensationalized coverage of the AIG bonuses was unique.

Actually, for some time now, there has been a dance between the news media and elected officials. The news media seems to relish the opportunity to throw a bomb like this, watch everyone pull off task, run around making pronouncements and largely waste a lot of time.

But politicians often use that same technique and use glib one-liners to get the media mojo moving.

But who is well served? We’re stuck in a whirlpool of short-term-itis, obsessing with putting out fires at the neglect of dealing with strategic issues which then results in more short-term fires, a vicious cycle. Our leaders need to be dealing with the huge, overarching issues facing our cities, towns, counties and countries. No one can do a good job of that if every 3 seconds they are pulled into the drama of the day.

We have smart people who can deal with those short-term issues and put out those fires…let’s just let them do their job. They will make mistakes but who doesn’t. If it is a question of capability then replace them. If it is bad faith, then fire them.

Let the elected officials lead.

But to break this cycle, we all need to realize that the news media is as flawed, agenda ridden, mistake laden as the rest of us…we’re all human. Let’s take them off that pedestal stop turning into a mob of finger pointers every time we see a headline.

We need to pay attention to news as just one small fragment of information available and get back to the serious, strategic work of finding solutions to problems long before they occur….instead of rushing around with Band-Aids every time a sensational news grenade rolls across the room.

If we need an example to follow, let’s take our lead from President Obama.

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