Why Leaders Need to Follow Dick Cheney

There are a few really good executive and life coaches out there, surrounded by many who you shouldn’t trust to sort your mail, much less advise you on anything important.[br]

One in the “hire them at your peril” group called me this week and, without asking if I had time, launched on a glory-be talk, about how life is play, people are fabulous spiritual beings who forget their greatness, and how coaching should open them up to their inner purity of love and compassion.[br]

I guessed his age to be around 60, and it sounded like he’d been through every self-help, self-discovery, and self-growth evolutionary program out there.  His voice conveyed the confidence of one who had found all the gurus, learned at their feet and was now preaching a message that was the highest, best expression of all of them, whipped together with vanilla sprinkles and Splenda.[br]

Then he said the words that inspired this week’s CBS Money Watch blog post.  “Do you have any advice for me?” he asked.  A principle of coaching is to never do it without permission, and he was asking.[br]

So I told him.[br]

“Become Dick Cheney.”[br]

“But… Dick Cheney is evil,” he said, “he represents everything my life is directed against.  He’s not open, loving, caring, and he lives in a world of scarcity, not a world of abundant love and joy.  He’s Darth Vader.  He even has someone else’s heart beating in his chest.”[br]

“Right.  Become him.  That’s my advice.  Take or leave it.”[br]

Think about it.  If you hired this coach—let’s call him Fred—to help you in your business, what advice would he offer about a political problem?  How would he deal with a manager who is out to get you, who is spreading lies and rumors about you, undercutting you, laughing at you being your back, and getting to others to join in the sarcasm fest?[br]

Probably open a dialogue, go to lunch with him and find his inner self.  Fred would say that you’ve falling victim to his dark side, and that the light is always more powerful.[br]

There’s a bit of leadership folly that the Fred’s of the world just don’t get.  There’s evil in the world.  And evil must be met with an equal force, and higher aspirations.  Truman believed that if he could just meet with Stalin—man to man—that he’d be able to impart some good.  While Churchill was warning the world that the Nazis were up to no good, the government of his country ignored him and used good listening techniques instead.  America has repeatedly focused on dialogue with North Korea, and South Korea took this approach to the extreme with its Sunshine Doctrine of love and joy toward the prodigal North.  Show them love, they will love you back.  Except, not so much.[br]

That view is embodied in Fred, and thousands like him.  Fred’s clients become the Aspirational leaders that I wrote about in CBS Money Watch this week.  Ironically, the Political leaders need him, but would look at him with such disdain that they’d crush him, just for the fun of it.[br]

So what to do?[br]

First, assess yourself on the Political-Aspirational continuum I wrote about on CBS Money Watch.[br]

Second, focus on building your capacity on the side that’s currently a strength.  If you’re Political, become more Political.  Read books like Robert Green’s 48 Laws of Power.  If you’re Aspirational, dance with bunnies, read Marianne Williamson books, and seek inner peace.[br]

Third, learn balance by developing the side that’s not as strong.  So whatever you did in step two, do the opposite now.  Find a mentor who is great where you are not.  Political leaders need Aspirational mentors, and vice versa.[br]

In the end, what we need is “positive politics.”  Politics played with a higher purpose at the helm.  If you don’t, you’ll end up irrelevant (Aspirational) or part of a system that is ultimately self-destructive (Political).  But as I said to Fred, the choice is yours.[br]

You may also like

Send this to a friend