I have worked for the federal government is various capacities for nearly 37 years and am in the twilight of that career. I started working on the farm where we lived in Ohio at the ripe old age of ten and, although I’ve held several private sector jobs, (factory laborer, salesman, restaurant worker, etc.), the greater part of my work experience has been viewed through the filter of a public servant. While serving in the Navy and the federal government, I have experienced a wide variety of leadership styles and have, in fact, been a leader at the department head level myself so I believe that I have a fairly adequate perception of the topic about which I am going to write.
Currently in this country, there is a stark contrast between being a true leader and merely supervising. Never has the chasm between the two been wider. It seems to me that, overall, leadership trends have mirrored the trends evident in our upper governmental structure. The political class of the United States today features a plethora of small-minded bureaucrats who seem to be more concerned with the many petty projects in their home districts that can be utilized to funnel money to their co-conspirators and friends rather than the true statesmanship our forefathers possessed as evidenced in their actions which benefitted individualism and thus, the country as a whole rather than certain favored fragmented but vocal self-interested groups. In the same way, this mind set has invaded the lower bureaucracies as well. We see top-level bureaucrats micro-managing their subordinates and hiring/promoting those who best suit their personal needs rather than the needs of their agencies. As a result, we find managers and supervisors who are inept and unqualified trying to run multi-million dollar departments with no real idea how to do so. In most cases, these managers simply maintain the status quo with no thought as to the ever-changing geopolitical, technological and cultural world in which we live. They generate no original ideas and seem incapable of critical thinking when involved in decision making. (A great analogy of this point would be a train wreck in which there is a myriad of injured and maimed and, all the while, the witnesses to the event stand indecisively waiting for someone else to make the difficult corrective decisions.)