There have been some incredible epic failures in leadership over the years and the rate of the failures seems to be increasing and the seriousness of the incidents seems to be getting worse. We are left in the aftermath of these failures asking a ton of questions;
- Why are leaders failing so often and in such a dramatic fashion?
- What has changed in our society that could be contributing to these failures?
- What sort of training does a leader need to become a leader?
- Do we need to regulate leaders by implementing certification organizations similar to what exists in North America for medical doctors, lawyers or professional engineers?
In Canada, in 1907, a bridge under construction collapsed killing 75 people. The cause of the collapse was attributed to poor engineering, design beyond the capability of the lead engineer, poor construction techniques, new use of technology, etc. There was a second attempt to build a new bridge on this site and this bridge also collapsed killing more people.
After this second collapse, a group of engineers decided it was time to begin regulation of the engineering profession in Canada. They implemented a country wide certification and registration program where engineers must receive a certain level of education and then practice under the leadership of professional engineers for a number of years. Once their engineer in training period has been completed, documented and signed off by a practicing and registered professional engineer they must pass exams to prove their competence. Only then are they allowed to register and practice engineering as a professional in Canada.
Similar to engineering, lawyers must pass the Bar Association exams in order to practice law. The American Bar Association regulates the practice of law in the US and has done this since 1878. Doctors have been regulated for centuries and this can be traced back to the Hippocratic Oath which dates back to the 5th century BC.
So if engineers, doctors, lawyers and many other professions have a code of ethics, regulations and a panel of peers to keep everyone accountable, why do leaders not something similar. I know it sounds a little far fetched because anyone can be a leader anywhere at anytime. In many cases, all you need to do is step up and volunteer. But think about it for a minute . . . right now, anyone can run for a public office of any sort with no prior experience, accreditation or training.
Right now we have leadership examples like Rob Ford, Alison Redford, Anthony Weiner, Bernard Madoff, Tiger Woods, Rod Blagojevich and Ted Stevens. Canada’s political “leaders” act like little kids in play-school when they face off in the House of Commons and the American government is just as bad with their deadlocks in Congress and lame duck president issues.
Is this really the legacy that we want to leave for the next generation and our own children?
If it’s not, what can we do about it? Can we implement a leadership certification program based on something like John C. Maxwell’s “5 Levels of Leadership” or Jim Collins’ “Level 5 Leadership” or Jack Welch “Leadership Principles” or others? Is this practical or feasible? Or do we address this in a different way?
I have written this post to generate thoughts and feedback. So, what are you thinking? What would you suggest?