A C-Level Failure

A C-Level Failure

In the business world, the buck stops in the C-suite. It is here that the tough decisions must be made – including decisions about when it’s time to pull the plug on a promising project; when it’s necessary to rationalize a company’s footprint or downsize its workforce; and how to allocate limited capital resources for best returns. Those of us at the C-level recognize that, as leaders of our companies, we have both an ethical and a fiduciary responsibility to make sound, thoughtful, reasoned decisions, to stand by our decisions and be accountable for the results that ensue.

In business as in other life domains, leaders lead. Oftentimes, being a leader requires us to muster all of our resources of strength, courage, energy, wisdom and faith, to rise above the moment and do what we must do. In some cases, we must rise above our own personal feelings, our favorite projects and initiatives, or the inertia of “the way we’ve always done it” in order to chart a path that will lead to growth and success for our organizations.  Once the difficult decisions have been made, it is then up to us to lead our followers forward with confidence and conviction.

But wait – no, apparently that is not the case at the C level of government. When the C stands for Congress, the governing body of our country, it seems that members of that particular C suite are able to give themselves a pass on the crucial responsibility of making tough decisions and accepting responsibility for their choices.

Recently in Europe, when it became clear that the ineffectual leaders of Greece and Italy were not up to the job of leading their respective countries out of their respective economic morasses, they were removed. Perhaps at this juncture, the members of the U.S. Congressional super committee should acknowledge their failure as leaders, accept that they are not up to the task of making tough decisions, and resign.

The irony of the entire super committee debacle is that there are clear answers – or at least choices that can lead to answers – about how to get our nation out of the fiscal quagmire we are in. It’s not as if we don’t know what needs to be done. The solutions, in a nutshell, are tax reform and spending cuts. Our political leaders don’t lack solutions. They simply lack the political will to do what needs to be done at this critical time.

Over the course of my career, I have faced some difficult, painful, gut-wrenching decisions. Occasionally I have made decisions that have that led to layoffs, closures, reorganizations – even the elimination my own job. That’s life at the C level.

I believe it is reckless, irresponsible, and a breach of fiduciary responsibility for members of the Congressional super committee to abdicate their obligation to make the decisions that need to be made at this critical time. These elected officials have a responsibility to lay out a course that will enable our country to get out of its spiral of debt and dysfunction.  Any C-level business executive would be terminated for his blatant failure to carry out this essential fiduciary duty.

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