Kodak, Borders, Blockbuster, Lehman Brothers, Circuit City—and the list goes on.  Most business schools will tell you now that they have had a chance to examine the corpse of each of those once great companies that they died from leadership suicide. Their top leaders made it very clear to employees that they did not want to hear any bad news, that questioning the status quo was frowned upon, and that candid, reality-based planning for the future was not worth the leadership’s time. That is a lesson that is even more important for top union leaders because of the very fragile state of unionism in this country.  We can’t survive much more trauma from the outside.  So, the last thing we need is damage from within.  The Harvard Business Review people just put out a short, thought-provoking article that union leaders should read entitled, “Make it OK for Employees to Challenge Your Ideas.”  We all know it is common that when national union leaders meet with local leaders that everyone likes to hear what the national president is up to and the national president likes to hear what a great job he is doing.  If  not a great job, at least no accusations, criticisms or tough questions.  But every one of those national president-local presidents meetings should devote a large portion of the agenda to one request from the national leadership, “So, tell me what I could do better, what I am missing, and what you need from me.”

About AdminUN

FEDSMILL staff has over 40 years of federal sector labor relations experience on the union as well as management side of the table and even some time as a neutral.
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