A Leader I Knew

Where have all the leaders gone? I was amazed by the lack of leadership exhibited by Obama after hurricane Sandy destroyed the Jersey shore and Staten Island. My experience with leaders is quite different. On my job I often had to fix quality problems we had with our products. If it was trivial, Engineering handled the matter immediately. If it was serious, the CEO-owner became involved. Mr. CEO called the department heads from Quality, Engineering, Tool Room, Production, and Marketing to his personal conference room. The problem was defined, the extent of the problem was determined, and then the brainstorming began. Mr. CEO did not allow us to leave the room until he satisfied himself that we had a plan to determine the root cause and an action plan to resolve it. The CEO made sure each department head had a solid plan of action to implement before the meeting convened.

Most of the time, Engineering had the bulk of the work to do. Within one hour after the meeting, I received a phone call from Mr. CEO who wanted a progress report. If I didn’t have one, he gave me a new deadline for when I would have one. He always followed up. Some problems were serious enough to follow up several times a day. Often, I had design changes made and prototyped into hard plastic by the following morning with test results to report. Mr. CEO followed each department head with the same tenacity: were the customers notified and appeased, had Production determined if all the molds used in the process had the same problem, did Quality check the inventory on the shelf?

Mr. CEO had a big stake in a major quality problem just as President Obama has in this country. The difference I see between Mr. CEO and Obama is that Obama gave an order to his department heads via national TV and then left to go campaigning. I laughed out loud when I heard him tell his bureaucrats via his speech to cut the red tape and think of ways to get stuff done. Did he call his Department heads and give them the same message? Did he hold their feet to the fire for solutions? Has he followed up? If he has, why are the people of New York and New Jersey still feeling the hurt?

Mayor Bloomberg, another proclaimed leader proudly announced that in spite of the devastation the New York Marathon would go on. Eventually he thought better and cancelled the race.  Two huge generators were on hand in Central Park for the Marathon.  They remain unused while big sections of the city could be powered from those units.

Where is the leadership?

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