Thursday, January 12, 2012

Betsy Myers- Take The Lead (Atria Books)

Ms. Myers was the COO of the Barack Obama presidential campaign and chaired the Women for Obama campaign organization in the last election cycle. She has served as the executive director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She, like her sister Dee Dee, was a senior official in the Clinton administration, working as the President’s advisor on women’s issues; women’s issues… not the President’s issues with women…I’ll leave it to you to fill in your own punch line.

Suffice it to say that Myers has tackled some high profile, high powered leadership roles. Yet I find her book, Take the Lead, as not so much a leadership book, but rather a set of what she describes as 7 core principles, that she wraps with political anecdotes as an example of those principles in practice.

Myers 7 principles include:
·         Connection – Making people feel seen and heard
·         Collaboration – Being willing to embrace different points of view
·         Authenticity – Knowing who you are
·         Respect – Treating each person as important
·         Clarity – laser focus and uncompromising consistency
·         Learning - always listening and staying open to new ideas
·         Courage – The courage to take risks; to apologize; to tell the truth; to grow

This could be the most contradictory list I have ever seen. Taking Ms. Myers at her own words, how can you be willing to embrace different points of view and be open to new ideas, yet remain uncompromisingly consistent? Does this say more about my Myers background in the political realm then about leadership?

Politicians by their very nature are some of the least authentic people I have ever encountered. Realistically speaking, if Barack Obama had been genuinely authentic during his Presidential campaign, does anyone really believe that he would have been elected President?

Boiling it down, Ms. Myers “core principles” aren’t a road map to leadership, but a road map to becoming a Democrat politician. It reads like a playbook for talking a good game, but doesn’t really show how to deliver the goods, which is really what Democrat elective politics have become – make it sound like you care about and issue/person, act like you’re going to do something, but never really deliver on a promise.

It’s interesting that the two powerful leaders that Ms. Myers worked for were so uniquely skilled at connection, yet such utter failures at having the courage to tell the truth. Interesting political insights…maybe. Leadership book…not so much.