analysis of the Republican ticket stems from over 30 years experience studying
executives and leadership, teaching leadership and working with leaders
of organizations ranging from F100 to small not-for-profits – and
especially on women’s issues.
As a presidential candidate, John McCain has been chosen by the people of his party. His choice of a Vice Presidential candidate and his campaign strategy, however, are direct statements about his capacity for and style of leadership.
Here’s what John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin to be -as he puts it - his "soul mate" and “partner” communicates about his leadership ability.
- His choice is akin to the Fortune 1 CEO (think WalMart) selecting to be Chief Operating Officer a district manager with 2 years experience. Republican spin-masters call his move “bold” – if he were a CEO, any impartial director would call it reckless. It shows a monumental lack of executive judgment.
- McCain’s choice also demonstrates a lack of judgment in choosing advisors. No board of directors of a major corporation would ever approve the addition of such an unqualified person into the candidate pool for the COO position.
- This choice is an appalling example of tokenism – there is no dimension on which Palin could be considered the “best qualified” person for the job. Compassion and principles (two commendable qualities highlighted when he introduced Palin) do not a vice president make.
- To accept and make the argument that 2 years experience as governor of a meagerly populated state equates to executive experience, demonstrates a lack of understanding of what is required to be executive-in-chief of the most powerful nation on earth.
- The most successful executives intentionally surround themselves with people brighter and with proven skills in their areas of weakness. His choice, again, shows a lack of executive intelligence.
- Sometimes in history, circumstances have called unprepared persons to step into positions of leadership. In this case, it's McCain who chose a poorly qualified person to stand one heartbeat from the presidency.
- Leaders need a vision for change. The Republicans' is to reform Washington (a noble vision given the Republicans who made a travesty of merit-based appointments at the Justice department and accounted for numerous ethics scandals in the last 8 years). But when it comes to the disastrous policies that have rocked the U.S. economy , driven us to increasing dependence on oil, resulted in billions being spent in Iraq, our loss of stature in the world - they advocate for more of the same. AND on issues that matter specifically to women, McCain's "vision" is among the worst in the Senate (see prior post).
- I define leadership as "...using the greatness in you to achieve and sustain extraordinary outcomes by engaging the greatness in others." McCain's vision for extraordinary outcomes is sadly missing as is any evidence that he is engaging greatness. Rather, his campaign and supporters are engaging hatred, contempt, superiority, lies, fear and racism.
- Authentic leadership calls for behavior aligned with words and actions guided by a moral compass. This past week is evidence enough that McCain himself has lied, has flip-flopped on issues and has condoned a campaign strategy that even the main stream media has had to call out for falsehoods.
As one who has watched women succeed and fail in corporate America, here’s what her acceptance tells me about Sarah Palin. She is right to have been, as she said, “honored and privileged to make the list”. But, she’s not ready to be vice president, she’s not qualified and she should have had the judgment to decline. Instead, like many women set up to fail, she let flattery at being chosen outweigh her judgment. Her claim that she didn't even blink, shows either incredible lack of intelligence or hubris (or both) – neither commendable leadership qualities. As a matter of fact, in Good to Great (Jim Collins' study of the transformation of companies from good performance to great performance) he finds that the executives were characterized by personal humility.
As a lifelong advocate for women’s rights, here’s what McCain’s choice of a VP candidate tells me about his views on women:
1. This choice, like his voting record on women’s issues (see prior post), demonstrates a contempt for women. In essence he’s saying that women are interchangeable and that women are stupid enough to see Palin and her stand on women’s issues as a stand-in for Hillary.
2. This choice, like McCain’s voting record on women’s issues, demonstrates his lack of understanding of women.
3. This choice and his repeated use of the words "soul mate" and “partner” rather than “running mate” suggests the idea of a “trophy candidate”.