Bear Sterns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill
Lynch, AIG. In case you missed it, the financial markets have
been on a roller coaster ride. The root cause for the pain and
suffering can be described by four words … truth, trust,
greed, and fear.
Here is the quick explanation:
Lesson for Leaders
So who’s to blame? The list is long, and there is more
than enough to go around. In the end, it all comes back to leadership.
Here are two lessons we can take from the mess in the financial
markets and apply to leading in municipal government.
Judgment defines your legacy. Leaders are
judged by their decisions, and some decisions count more
than others. You have to get the big ones correct. Too much
greed exposes you to risk and unintended consequences. Too
much fear limits you from moving forward in a timely and
effective manner. The key is to manage the risk-reward balance
to achieve long-term success. It’s about building a
dynasty rather than having a single winning season.
Trust defines your relationships, and relationships
determine your effectiveness. Truth and trust
are the lubricants of successful relationships. Their absence
drives people to protect their own immediate interests
often at the expense of their long-term benefit. Your constituents
and colleagues react the same way. Mistrust paints with
a roller not a small brush.
Another bubble or crisis will occur the future. And, we’ll
have another opportunity to see if we have learned from the past.
In the meantime, use this as a lesson about the pitfalls that
occur when truth and trust are sacrificed at the alter of greed
and irrational expedience that ignores risk.