Lack of Leadership – Let’s Stop Complaining and Do Something . . .

Leadership can be learned, at least by those who have the self-knowledge, inner strength and intelligence to see what works and what does not.  -Will Hutton

Everywhere you turn today you hear and read about lack of leadership.  Political pundits decry the lack of leadership in the US, the UN, the UK Parliament, California, Greece. Sports critics blog and talk about lack of leadership in the locker room, on the field, in the front offices, in FIFA and the International Olympic Committee.  Unions blame the lack of leadership for poor employee motivation and engagement. Business analysts blame poor competitive performance on lack of leadership.

It’s no wonder there’s a lack of leadership the world over.  We don’t teach leadership!

We teach economics, math, sports skills, music, languages. We even teach poker skills, chess, computer skills for luddites, cooking with Jamie and Delia.  There are classes and education on just about everything, except leadership!

What I’ve learned in my 60+ years on this planet is that blaming and complaining get you nothing but sympathy (and not for very long, either).  It’s time to stop complaining about the lack of leadership and start doing something about it.

I propose we develop a mandatory leadership curriculum for all school children.  We shouldn’t just be teaching leadership in business colleges or MBA courses.  We should have a leadership curriculum that begins at the beginning, in pre-school, carries on through every grade as mandatory (like PE or Gym) right on up through all levels of compulsory education.

Leadership is not just for politicians, or business people, it’s for everyone to understand and internalize.  Children need to learn the differences between positive leadership and negative leadership.  Right now kids can tell you all about Lady Gaga or the Black-eyed Peas but not much about the difference is leadership between Adolf Hitler and Gandhi. If asked, most kids will equate leadership with a way to make money!  Is it any wonder we have nations of bystanders and observers, content to sit and watch X-Factor, America’s Got Talent and Dancing with the Stars rather than taking active leadership roles in their communities, local and national governments?

Starting all children on a progressive compulsory curriculum of leadership is the only way to develop the leaders that our fragile world so urgently needs.  It will teach them to make more positive choices based on fundamental human principles and informed understanding rather than what mass media, social media or the local drug dealers promote as the “right” choices.

Instead of endless debates and weak proclamations, the UN should take the lead to develop a curriculum of leadership.  And it doesn’t have to be perfect the first time out.  Like all good endeavors it will evolve and improve as we get feedback and see what works and what doesn’t.

Now the question is, does the UN (or anyone else for that matter) have the leadership courage to get started?

Tight Lines . . .

John R Childress

E |      T | +44 207 584 3774      M | +44 7833 493 999

About johnrchildress

John Childress is a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at or
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2 Responses to Lack of Leadership – Let’s Stop Complaining and Do Something . . .

  1. Pingback: More on a Leadership Curriculum . . . | John R Childress . . . rethinking leadership

  2. Pingback: Leadership and the American University of Beirut | John R Childress . . . rethinking leadership

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