Leadership : Accountability and Truth
One of the most memorable and traumatic moments in my life was the attack to the twin towers. I was not in NY at the time, but my brother was. A student in NYU, with his dorms blocks away from the towers, I still remember when a teacher walked in to our class to inform our teacher that the towers had been hit.
From that moment, our day changed, and so did our lives. I remember watching as the president at the time, Bush, was informed of the attack, whilst in a classroom reading a children's book. The look of his face, stupefaction in its purest form.
And then came the blame game, Iraq it was, the coalition, and then, the war. The "terrible enemies", which were taken over in a matter of hours, and the search of WMDs and Biological weapons and Sadam.
Today, we know all of that was bad intelligence, bad or non-existent conspiracy theories spun for purposes of convenience.
No accountability, bad intelligence, and a loose sense of truth led to the most unnecessary war, the fruit of bad leadership. Besides blaming bad and limited intelligence, there was no reparations, and the damage was done, fully knowing they were accountable for nothing.
Today, we see a very different reality. A complex enemy where you can't point weapons too, who you can't attack, and were defeat against this enemy means wrecking our livelihoods. There are no answers that are absolute in this situation, intelligence could be bad, conspiracy theories run wild, and in desperation, I fear without accountability nor a sense of objective truth, we may be building another unnecessary
I look at Brazil as an example. A country which is going through a complex battle against the Coronavirus with more daily cases, mortality rates rising, and response only at a local level.
Currently, the President and leader is comparing this pandemic to a little flu, and not taking any measure to acknowledge the need for social distancing measures. To the contrary, he has been constantly defiant of social distancing measures, has publicly fought with his own medical experts, fired the minister of health, and currently opposing measures of social distancing being implemented by local leaders. Again, showing that today's leadership has the grotesque problem that it has no accountability. But, this is worst.
What the hell is going?
I can tell you.
The other part, TRUTH. This is complex, and has many different forms. The expressions "this is my truth" comes to mind. I support the actions of self-actualization and self-realization, which have to be coupled with some sense of of belief.
For example, not long ago, Lebron James (NBA Superstar) said on an interview that a moment in his career made him the "Greatest of all Time" (GOAT).
Many cringed, others criticized him for the disrespect, and spin-city compared everything from statistics to accolades. All for the same purpose, to discuss whether this was true.
Here is where I draw the difference in what I personally differentiate, SELF-TRUTH and OBJECTIVE-TRUTH.
I believe that Lebron James believes he is or can be the GOAT. It is his truth. This drives and motivates him for more, better, and thinking as such. This is the motivational side of truth, the need to believe in order to become better, greater, and the path to being what you believe. Self-actualization through a sense of "truth".
What is the objective-truth in this same case, that the definition of GOAT is not fixed, and therefore, it can't be defined, there is no objective metric, and thus, it is forever debated.
But then, we need to see the "objective-truth".
If a car is traveling at 50 Miles Per Hour, that car is traveling at 80 kilometres per hour.
Even if you don't know the difference between Imperial or Metric measurements, you know that the car is traveling at the same speed in both scenarios. There is no difference, regardless of the set of knowledge you possess, and therefore, not questioned. This type of objective-truths are because no matter how you measure it, the car is traveling at the same speed.
This sense of "objective truth" is what I think is the science of the last century. From manufacturing to machines, from weapons to trade, medical treatments beyond our dreams, research and development, from libraries to the internet, and we have advanced to a stage that there few questions we can't tackle through science.
Now you may ask, what does all this have to do with Leadership?
A leader needs to make decisions with imperfect information, the bigger the role, the more risk those decisions impose. All leaders need to be able to interpret information that is beyond the metrics of an "objective truth", which is why leadership requires a moral compass, a sense of "self-truth" that is meant for that position of leadership. Just by interpreting the "objective truth" at hand you risk making wrong choices due to lack of information. And following nothing but your self-truth could be a delusional journey.
But if you confuse your sense of self-truth against the objective-truth, you run the risk of forgetting about anything rather that what you believe, and closing yourself from that drive of becoming self-actualized.
President Jair Bolsonaro, your path is following a concept of "self-truth" that is making you a fool. You will be judged by your performance on the "objective-truths" of this pandemic, infected, casualties, and measures taken.
The worst part of it all is that those that are going to suffer from this are looking up to their leaders because of the complexity of this situation, yet all you see is denial, and the obvious sign of a pandemic that is going out of control.