StarTribune – A call for ‘authentic leadership’

Bill George, the former Medtronic CEO cum Harvard professor and nationally acclaimed leadership guru, tarred Minnesota political leaders in a July 4 blog post for the “leadership gaffe” that led to the state government shutdown. 

He was particularly irked that while state parks and rest stops were closed, the governor and legislative leaders took a holiday break from negotiations. Presumably they can spend it in neighboring Wisconsin where budgets are balanced and parks are operating,” he wrote. 

When I caught up with him Tuesday, he was still fuming. “If this had been in business, say at Medtronic, you’d say, ‘OK, lock the doors, let’s stay here till this gets done. 

The author of the best-selling book “Authentic Leadership” elaborated: “Our elected officials are looking out for their party agendas, rather than what’s in the best interests of all of Minnesota. They are putting party politics ahead of leadership. They owe it to the citizens of Minnesota to come to an agreement.” 

Politicians aren’t the only leaders who have a role to play now, he added. Minnesota has “tremendous” business leaders, he said. They should help end the shutdown. 

“The message from business community should be a solid message of fiscal responsibility and progressive social issues, so that this is an attractive place to be and work. They should raise their voices for education. And they should be up for a re- look at the whole tax system.” 

As Target Corp. learned to its sorrow last summer, wading into politics can be perilous. But so can be a refusal to respond to trouble on a business’s home turf. 

For Minnesota’s sake, I hope that isn’t this summer’s School of Hard Knocks business leadership lesson. 

Lori Sturdevant is a Star Tribune editorial