Leadership Inaction or In Action

In Action vs Inaction - 1I am contemplating the examples of leadership that are prevalent today and instead of being shining examples of Leadership In  Action, with a space between “In” and “Action”, I seem to find that they are pitiful examples of Leadership Inaction, without a space between “In” and “action”. Is it a little bit hokey and a play on words? Yes, it is absolutely. But, unfortunately, it captures the state of leadership in our nation and in our culture today.

Many of us who are working for a living and trying to be productive members of society are observing ample instances of inaction by our elected leaders. When it seems obvious that taking a stand is necessary and the appropriate thing to do, instead for the most part we hear the sound of crickets from our elected political leaders.

In Action vs Inaction - 2But as much as I want to blame these elected political leaders, I can’t. It seems that what “sells” is that which is most pleasing to the ears of the listener. And, as a free market capitalist, I can’t blame them for selling a product that so many appear to want to purchase. Inaction sells.

But inaction has a tremendous downside.  It has the effect of sucking life and courage from those of us who would lead.  Consider what the great businessman and philanthropist Dale Carnegie once said:

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage.
If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it.
Go out and get busy.”

As we see both on the platform of many churches every Sunday and on the stage of political life daily the inaction of those leaders grows from the seeds of doubt and fear manifested mainly by the lack of their own convictions for doing “the right” thing.  They are plagued by so much self-doubt that they are practically paralyzed from acting.  It is either that or they are so concerned that someone won’t like them or won’t invite them on the week-end TV shows that they stay to the safety and security of the status quo.

In Action vs Inaction - 3Who do you see out there that would be a great example of a current day man in (space) action? Who do you know that is someone who does not worry about whether he is liked or admired by the culture because his courage and his convictions for doing what is right weighs heavier on him than his desire for popularity.

So, I ask a question of you leaders who are drawn to this blog and who are drawn to where the action is.

What are you doing to eliminate the space?

Photo credit: Robert S. Donovan / Foter / CC BY
Photo credit: caseyhelbling / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA
Photo credit: Jerrold / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND
Photo credit: Brett Kiger / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

4 Replies to “Leadership Inaction or In Action”

  1. Set a goal, see what processes are needed to accomplish goal, process map that flow and find out just how much red tape we naturally put into reaching goals. Sometimes inaction is actually high volume action of non-valued added steps. They accomplish nothing, while keeping people very busy running in place.

    Sorry, my QA side coming out again.

    1. Scott, you get this. I get this and I am not the brightest light on the string. So, why is this not comprehended by so many?

      And your words – “inaction is actually high volume action of non-value added steps” is as profound as it is brilliant and insightful.

      1. In my experience, a major under realized trait in leaders who are in charge of multifaceted people and arenas (political, business, mfg, etc) is being able to step back from the fire/day to day battles and see understand what they are seeing from the outside in.

        It is so easy to get tied up in being “busy”, that they don’t see the amount of inherent double/triple work and/or rework that happens in processes. I think we as humans have an easier time adding something to make it better, than taking something away to make it better.

  2. Scott and Kevin, In my experience as limited as it may be I think action or the lack of is very difficult thing for most leaders. Do we lead from the front? I think we all agree, follow me is better than go and do, or do we let our team or followers make there own mistakes. How do we determine which is right for the time? or maybe it is which is right for the team mate or follower. I find my struggle is, making quick decisions, handling problems and then sometimes, having to solve additional issues my quick reaction has caused. I tend lean toward make a decision so, something gets done. Great subject I look forward to more dialogue.

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