Taking Responsibility for The End of the Financial World as We Know It

Friends on Twitter have been retweeting The End of the Financial World as We Know by Michael Lewis and David Einhorn in the Sunday New York Times Op-Ed page. And I’ve been “head-down” since Thanksgiving reinventing our approach and working on multiple web, product, and service launches to support you with the Responsibility Redefined™ mission in 2009 (I promise there is a link between these two opening statements) including

  • at least 5 sessions of Knowledge Team Leadership in the US and UK,
  • the exciting new  Journey to Responsibility and Self-Leadership DVD-based Do-It-Yourself workshop for organizations,
  • an innovative leadership development program for enlightened senior leaders I’m calling the Perfect Problem™ Breakthrough,
  • a new web presence, and
  • as they say — much more.

Look for more on all off these in the coming days and weeks.

I Said “Reinventing”

I’ve been confronting my value proposition as a leadership developer and organization change consultant. Without going deeply into it, I’ve decided to  personally serve only those leaders who desire to change their own consciousness. No more change-those-other-people-so-I/we-can-be-successful assignments.

That’s big, humbling, and scary (consider the self-talk: am I a fool, or worse, stupid?). Its like saying no to your boss—or family. And it does put my family’s daily bread on the line…again.

It’s not a moral issue for me (I enjoy economic prosperity, cool business models, and leadership success a great deal). It’s an ethical one. Continuing to serve the corporate-success-at-all-costs-machine won’t accomplish the Responsibility Redefined™ mission of changing the way the world thinks about personal responsibility.

And it’s no wonder this comes at a time of unprecedented conflicts, disasters, and other tumult on our planet. We see immense fear and lack of ownership everywhere we look. I don’t know about you, but I also see immense opportunity to take responsibility for the world we want around us, you and me.

Repeat: I’m Mad as Hell and Not Going to Take it Anymore!

While I generally don’t join the right/wrong debates in national and international politics and issues (taking 100 percent responsibility is about getting past blame and right/wrong, and, as Gandhi said, simply being the change you desire) I am feeling called to show up with courage and strength at this troubling time.

The Sunday NY Times article produced a few lines that seemed to crystallize my thoughts. The authors open with a poignant premise about the United States leadership in the world:

We’ve been viewed by the wider world with mistrust and suspicion on other matters, but on the subject of money even our harshest critics have been inclined to believe that we knew what we were doing. They watched our investment bankers and emulated them: for a long time now half the planet’s college graduates seemed to want nothing more out of life than a job on Wall Street.

This is one reason the collapse of our financial system has inspired not merely a national but a global crisis of confidence. Good God, the world seems to be saying, if they don’t know what they are doing with money, who does?

But the piercing statement comes in the middle of this later paragraph (bold italics are mine):

Richard Fuld, the former chief executive of Lehman Brothers, E. Stanley O’Neal, the former chief executive of Merrill Lynch, and Charles O. Prince III, Citigroup’s chief executive, may have paid themselves humongous sums of money at the end of each year, as a result of the bond market bonanza. But if any one of them had set himself up as a whistleblower — had stood up and said “this business is irresponsible and we are not going to participate in it” — he would probably have been fired. Not immediately, perhaps. But a few quarters of earnings that lagged behind those of every other Wall Street firm would invite outrage from subordinates, who would flee for other, less responsible firms, and from shareholders, who would call for his resignation. Eventually he’d be replaced by someone willing to make money from the credit bubble.

I’m in. Who’s With Me?

So I’m out to develop enlightened leaders who will say this business is irresponsible and we are not going to participate in it, not because they want to be fired, but because we seek a better and simpler way to prosperity and life success. How cool will that be when all across the land enlightened leaders start saying “no” to all sorts of irresponsible, oppressive, unsustainable, and greedy practices. If I can help support leaders in making this move, then I’m all in. I hope you are too. As if to drive home this need, the NY Times article ends with this:

Our leaders have framed the problem as a “crisis of confidence” but what they actually seem to mean is “please pay no attention to the problems we are failing to address.”

Where would these authors say “our leaders” minds are on the Responsibility Process™?

Posted in Leadership, Responsibility on 01/06/2009 11:22 am
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