The Focus of Leadership

September 30, 2011

Current Issues, Ethics, Leadership

Federal officials have announced 37 arrests at a Boeing plant in Pennsylvania as result of a four year investigation into illegal prescription drug sales.  This incident makes national news because of the importance of the work being done there, including the manufacture of military aircraft such as the Chinook and Osprey.

”This investigation and prosecution focused not only on the sellers, but also on the users because of the critical role that these employees play in manufacturing military aircraft,” said United States Attorney Zane David Memeger
Big case with lots of arrests.  By all measures a huge success, depending on the definition of success.   Are arrest numbers a good measure of success?  Is the quest for the big case or the big arrest in conflict with the ‘Why’ of the organization, which we call Mission.

What’s the Mission???

Are there any questions that haven’t been asked in the coverage of the Boeing arrests? What happened during the four years that this case was put together?  Along with gathering evidence, what was done to ensure the aircraft being manufactured were safe for our military folks?  Is the primary Mission to protect, or to arrest, and which of the two were served?  Hopefully both were served but why isn’t anyone asking the question?  In this story, some undercover agents posed as dealers selling placebo.  A tremendous ethical improvement over Fast and Furious…

Fast and Furious

Fast and Furious put guns on the street and people died as result.  Officials did harm in the name of making arrests.  Where was protecting the public in that equation?  What was the Mission?  Could illegal weapon trafficking have been addressed without engaging in the same activity agents were sworn to combat and placing innocents in harm’s way?

Why ask ‘Why’?

Anytime you fail to ask the root question about how your actions relate to your core Mission you run the risk of ethics violations and missing your performance mark.  You miss opportunities to motivate your people to get the job done. Simon Sinek does a great TED talk on the importance of ‘ Why’ in motivating performance :How Great Leaders Inspire Action .  You must always ask ‘why?’ because that’s where true success, inspiration and motivation begin.


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