Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Leadership Theater?

My on-going pre-occupation with the TSA elicited information from Doug yesterday that has me on a new train of thought. For those who don’t want to follow the link, he sent a Wikipedia article on security theater, actions designed to provide the feeling of security while doing little or nothing to improve actual safety. (The cited source is the author of a book about thinking sensibly about security, Beyond Fear by Bruce Schneier.)

This made me think about all the leadership theater I see in my daily life. How many people have you seen talking about leadership, posturing and, oh yes, claiming the perquisites, without actually taking any of those icky or uncomfortable steps that would be required by real leadership? Illinois is rife with them right now. Got any good examples from your setting to share?

Michael and I are still sore from the weekend’s labors. We’re also still feeling chagrined and bad about the relaxed family weekend turning into lifting and toting work in the attic, not to mention impinging on visiting time, and as we talk about it, still seeing no good way around it if we were going to get the furniture for Kearney. There’s bound to be a lesson in here about mission creep: should we not have bought the piece for her? That doesn’t seem right. Asked the guy if he could store it until we get back in August? That might have been possible, but seems unlikely. Hired movers? Not a Walker approach and something that is never going to happen in this world. It’s a conundrum. We feel like we didn't make a very good choice, and aren’t sure how to learn from it and not repeat the error. I hate not being perfect and making the right choices all the time and doing what’s right for everyone.

Other than that, things are still stressful as the cumbersome nature of a four-unit agreement for my next year’s university appointment plays out. Last week, there was a period of time where it looked like a left-hand-right-hand error might (inadvertently) leave me without benefits until it could be fixed. The prospect of benefits interruption is particularly scary for me right now. We got through that set of hurdles only to encounter another set this week. There’s a lot of good will and many people working to set it right--which also feels awful, as the good guys are always busy and thus this is yet another imposition on their time. Still, we’re not through the woods and I’m seriously second-guessing my decision to continue rather than simply retire. For now, it’s one foot in front of the other.

Off now to the airport for what I hope will be the last trip before we got to France. It’s rainy today, but there shouldn’t be any big storms between here and Boston, and I’ll meet with my editor there to catch up and to talk about the summer’s work plan on the book-in-progress, among other things. Do send examples of leadership theater you see around you. Maybe we can do something with this concept.

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