Hey, Buddy.  Can You Spare Some Good News?

If you are looking for some good news about leadership, read on to the end of this post.  Here’s why.

Once again last week, we witnessed another example of paralysis in Washington, DC, due to a very fragmented and polarized group of 435 legislators in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Regardless of where you stand on the best way to improve America’s health care insurance and delivery system, the inability of our national leaders to reach a reasonable middle ground is disheartening.

If you’re like me, you don’t feel very well represented by any of the extremes.

But I still believe in results-oriented, thoughtful leadership, despite the fact that we don’t see much of it in our national politics.  When it comes to lasting and meaningful education and workforce reform, I think we need to keep looking for it at the state and local levels.

Here’s what I wrote about leadership in my book, the Power and Promise of Pathways.

The Call to Leadership

“I agree with Jim Clifton’s assessment of the need for local leadership in his important book, “The Coming Jobs War.”[i]  He asserts that “strong leadership teams are already in place within cities,” and that they have to align all their local forces to double the level of entrepreneurial energy.

He also warns, “Don’t allow your local constituencies to look to Washington,” meaning: Don’t look for federal government funding and policies to save the day when it comes to job creation.  I would also flip the argument– “Don’t allow your local constituencies to blame all your local problems on Washington.”

Conservatives have been waiting for someone to finally slash and burn up the “welfare state” and get the government off our backs.  Liberals are looking for Washington to finally get serious about ending poverty through massive housing programs, job training, and universal health care.  Let’s get serious about this.  Help is not coming from Washington.  I worked in Washington for 15 years, and things have only gotten worse since I left.

But the good news is, America has an amazing wealth of creativity, energy, and goodwill among its people, its schools and colleges, its businesses, and its social, religious, and cultural institutions.  We have a deep tradition of local people rolling up their sleeves, taking responsibility, and getting to the work at hand.

The only way forward is for local leaders to emerge and make change happen.”

So, as a local leader who is committed to developing the talents and gifts of our youth and adult learners, I encourage you to keep pressing forward to make real change happen – change that can last.

Please, Share Some Good News!

I don’t want to get into a big discussion about Washington politics, but I really want to hear your stories about local leaders who are coming together to create effective and innovative improvements to education and workforce systems.  If I get enough examples, I’ll share them in an upcoming post.  Thanks!

[i] Clifton, J. (2011), The Coming Jobs War, What every leader must know about the future of job creation, Gallup Press, New York, NY

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