So where were you on the evening of November 2? And the hours and days that followed? If you are like many Canadians, you were transfixed by the electoral races for the US White House, Senate and Congress. (At the time of this writing, the results are not yet final.)
What can we learn from the US election results, and what lessons that can be applied to our business community?
We can acknowledge that President Trump has performed better on the campaign trail than many (including the media) thought he would. Former Vice President Biden has done better than former candidate Hilary Clinton and turned a couple of red states blue. All of which has resulted in a nail biter finish.
Perhaps one of the biggest positives was the estimated record electoral turnout of 67%, surpassing the numbers for the past 100 years. Democracy thrives on participation and this is a healthy takeaway.
One of the challenges going forward is the near 50/50 split of the vote. Heaped on the angst of the past several years, such polarization will only fan the flames of tension. Regardless of the final victor, the next four years are going to continue to be tumultuous. The stock markets will react accordingly.
One important question for both parties is who will take on the leadership going forward? By the end of the next election cycle, both Trump and Biden will be close to 80 or older. Leadership at that level requires intensity and stamina; attributes that most 80-year old’s will be lacking.
Unfortunately, weak political leadership is being seen across many western democracies. The question asked by many, “Is that the best we’ve got?”
But who is to blame? Frankly, I think we are. It brings back memories of Pogo’s pronouncement, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Social media is both a benefit and a burden. We have become a polarized culture, “My rights supersede yours.” Personal responsibility is at an all-time low.
Why would someone thinking of entering politics actually pull the trigger? The unbearable scrutiny and mudslinging is too much for most. Why would a successful business leader consider stepping up?
And what are the lessons that we can apply to our business community?
First and foremost, leadership matters. While we all think we can be leaders, many cannot. We have all likely worked for good leaders and poor leaders. Good leaders know how to listen, lead, make a decision and support that position, all built on the qualities of ethical behaviour, truth, clarity and consistency. All attributes that we want in our politicians as well.
If we want our business to reach its full potential, all of our employees must feel like they are on the same team. A staff divided is a house divided and is doomed to fall. This also means that leaders need to find ways to bring all of their staff on board. Demographic changes, positional roles and black swans such as pandemics all influence how we keep our team motivated and focused on our mission.
Succession planning is also vital for businesses. Organizations built on the vision of one man or woman can be very successful, but the long-term success requires the engagement, training and transfer of both authority and responsibility to future leaders.
There are other lessons to consider as well – marketing, communications, business and strategic plans and execution.
If your business, not-for-profit or association is considering how to move forward during the new normal of COVID-19, why not sit down with Osborne Interim Management to discuss some options moving forward.