I have something of a rant in me - and it has to do with politics. But this isn’t a partisan rant, it’s a rant about leadership in troubled times.
Like all of you I’ve been riveted by the unfolding financial crisis - as have my employees, all 86 of them. It’s clear they are worried, as are my managers and my investors. The Valley, often immune to milder swings in market conditions, is starting to feel the pain more acutely - earlier this week one of the most respected venture firms in the Valley called all their CEOs to a meeting and told them to start cutting back, conserving cash, and preparing for a long downturn. All of us have to take responsibility for our businesses at this moment.
So when President Bush made a speech today addressing the financial crisis, I made a point of listening. And what I heard really made me angry.
Why? Simple: Nowhere in his remarks did President Bush take responsibility for what is happening.
And taking responsibility is what leaders do in troubled times. Own the problem. Apologize for any actions taken that may have led to the trouble at hand. And then provide, with confidence, a prescription for addressing the screwups.
If leaders don’t take responsibility, we lose faith in those leaders. And in a market like this, a loss of faith, a loss of confidence, means a spiral downward.
My view is simply this: President George Bush needs to apologize for allowing this to happen on his watch, he needs to own the problem, and then, and only then, can the American people have faith and confidence in his administration’s prescriptions for recovery.
My two cents.