CEOs are adding business leader activist to their responsibilities and initiatives. CEOs as activists are gaining momentum. Although CEOs get a majority of the attention, other business leaders are adopting similar tactics and engaging more publicly in policy discussions on social and economic issues. Others may be curious about the trend in headlines and news stories of business leaders stepping up on issues of gun safety and control, gender and race discrimination, and immigration.
Politics and Business: Do They Mix?
My personal experience contains a mix of politics and business. In the first eight years of my work life, my roles were in politics and government, serving in different appointee positions in Washington, DC. When I was ready to shift to business, I faced skepticism. The interview questions were about the relationship between government and business.
Business and politics have always mixed. Leaders are more upfront about it today.Tweet
From this experience, I decided to return to school and get an MBA. After graduation, I minimized my political experience. However, what I found it that the differences between leading in a government agency is not that different from leading in a business.
Today’s situation is similar and experiencing an equal realization. Although government and business were kept separate, the reality is that they were never that split. It was more of an artificial boundary. Through the Center for Responsive Politics, you can see the amount spent on lobbying by different corporations, including over $24 million by Boeing and over $12 million by Oracle. Business leaders have always been involved in politics.
Business and politics have always mixed. Leaders are more upfront about it today.
Five Signs You Are Ready to Lead as a Business Activist
I believe more business leaders are becoming aware of their role and impact on policy discussions and actions. As this shift continues, some business leaders may feel the urge and wonder if they are moving in that direction, too. Here are five signs you may be leaning toward becoming a business leader activist.
1 – Rising concerns about the character of our leaders
Some individuals say more divisive, harmful things than in the past. Unfortunately, the current president of the United States is leading in this negative way but, as another example, some media personalities are taking the cue. While one wanted to “sexually assault” a Parkland student, another ridiculed the same Parkland student for being rejected by a few colleges. What is happening to character? Is sending a derogatory jolt more important than acting with integrity, compassion, and respect?
If you read articles about the outrageous activities of various individuals and wonder what is happening to our individual and community character, then you might be leaning toward becoming a business leader activist.
2 – A leadership void in solving problems sooner than later
I believe that some of our national frustration can be attributed to unsolved problems. Rising debt, failing infrastructure, outdated privacy laws, and unaddressed healthcare costs are only the beginning. Companies are kicking problems down the road, too. Dysfunctional organizational culture continues as trust declines and employee engagement sinks. Strategic challenges go unaddressed as sales, market share, and profitability falter.
If you see and feel the impact of unsolved problems and wonder why leaders continuously ignore issues, then you might be leaning toward becoming a business leader activist.
3 – Rising divisiveness because some leaders bringing the worst out of others rather than the best
Do you believe more leaders are bringing out the best in others or the worst?
Simply stated, if you lean toward feeling that too many are bringing out the worst in others, then you might be leaning toward becoming a business leader activist.
4 – A focus on the past rather than developing policies for the future
With some leaders, more time is spent on looking back than acting forward. History is essential by the lessons learned and analysis that may prevent repeating the past. Leaders who talk about the great past and then try to say past solutions are better than future ones are doing a disservice for so many. Many fundamental advancements are here and now, and we need to craft good policies that consider good philosophies for the facts of today and the future.
If you hear too many talk in the past tense and understand the heart of the future, then you might be leaning toward becoming a business leader activist.
5 – Beginning to ask in self-reflection: What can I do now?
The words of John F. Kennedy in his inaugural address may ring in our minds – “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” When we feel stalemate, hear divisiveness, and experience inaction, we feel a stir of what can we do now. Too many gaps exist, and we understand that unaddressed gaps will just grow. If growing gaps continue, few will be unaffected. We realize that changing the trajectory of policy, strategy, and tactics begins with what we do today and each day afterward.
When we shake our heads in bewilderment of why this is happening, the urge to act solidifies.
When we wonder why better thinking is not rising up, our deeper thoughts convert to productive actions.
When we feel the rising frustration of negative words and actions, we understand our responsibility to act in a counter way by leading for the greater good and in better ways.
Are you feeling the stir of business leader activism? Are you ready to begin to lead differently today?
Our time is here.
Feature Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash
Photo by Jungwoo Hong on Unsplash