Why not try electing non-stupid people into office?
You may have read about the Texas small business owner last month who became so frustrated with spending enormous amounts of money, trying to find qualified workers through Facebook advertisements and job boards that he put a sign up at his business reading, “Now Hiring Non-Stupid People.”
He said doing this made him more hopeful that the next few job applicants would make better employees because they would know what to expect. He explained, “They don’t think they’re stupid, so they came in to apply.”
This got me thinking about the Shreveport mayor’s race, as well as the city council and school board elections. As a community, we’re “hiring” elected officials this month, and we each get one vote as to who gets hired. I’m just wondering if we’ve properly advertised the qualifications for the various “job” openings on the ballot this month. Should have already put up a sign outside the clerk of court’s office (where candidates go to qualify to be on the ballot) that reads, “Now Hiring Non-Stupid People?”
I mean, it’s not as if our hiring record as voters has been stellar. It’s been said that the decision-makers in almost every organization spend 10% of their time hiring and 90% of their time making up for hiring mistakes – and we are those decision-makers as voters.
Sometimes those mistakes are due to the limited number of qualified candidates we are given to choose from, though – pick the best of what might be slim pickings.
After all, the more senior-level a job is, the fewer qualified candidates that apply, especially if you’ve been hiring (electing) “C” level candidates for years and years and years. That’s a sure way to drive the “A” level candidates out of applying in the first place.
Of course, we can’t stop “hiring” folks into elected offices just because we’re not good at it or the pool of qualified candidates is small.
And that’s why, as voters, we must be in the “people” business in every election, every year, every time. As Jack Welch, the former chairman and CEO of General Electric, said, “We spend all our time on people,” he says.
“The day we screw up the people thing, this company is over.”
The same is true for our government, from City Hall to the White House, and I’ll say it — we’ve screwed up the people thing. There’s simply no polite way to say it anymore, and if we keep doing what we’re doing, we’ll keep getting what we’re getting, and frankly, I don’t want any more of “it.”
Sure, during the interview process (or campaign) for elected office, the candidates will always say what we want to hear. They will tell us how much they are “working for us,” that “now is our time,” and that “our children deserve better.” They tell us how our streets will be safer, our schools will be better, garbage pick-up will be on time, our water bills will be accurate, and our future will be brighter, all because of their ideas.
But their pie-in-the-sky ideas aren’t enough. Good ideas don’t have wings. They don’t just take off because of your resume or because of how long you have lived in our community, or whether you have a “D” or “R” behind your name. They require leadership abilities to bring them to fruition, and far too many of our elected officials simply don’t have it in them -- or the qualifications – despite their arguably good intentions.
As it is often said, “You can’t fix stupid.” But you don’t have to elect it into office.
And leadership, or elected office, is not for everyone. According to Fortune magazine, 70% of CEOs fail because they cannot execute. They don’t get things done, are indecisive, and don’t follow through. And yet, we keep electing these same types of folks to lead our communities and nation, year after year.
They don’t have the temperament needed to concentrate on large-scale organizational change. They aren’t secure enough in their beliefs to deliver the needed changes because they capitulate when faced with almost any political resistance to those changes.
In short, we’ve been hiring “C” level candidates all these years when we should be hiring, as that Texas business owner put it, “only non-stupid people,” instead.
This election day, vote like a boss because when it comes to “hiring” elected officials, you are.
Louis R. Avallone is a Shreveport businessman, attorney and author of “Bright Spots, Big Country, What Makes America Great.” He is also a former aide to U.S. Representative Jim McCrery and editor of The Caddo Republican. His columns have appeared regularly in 318 Forum since 2007. Follow him on Facebook, on Twitter @louisravallone or by e-mail at email@example.com, and on American Ground Radio at 101.7FM and 710 AM, weeknights from 6 - 7 p.m., and streaming live on keelnews.com.