Maine’s Don Quixote


Don Quixote Tilting at Windmills (Original) art by Alvaro

When the governor called a mandatory meeting with Unemployment Insurance appeals hearing officers at the Blaine House (his home turf) behind closed doors, it added to a growing list of controversial actions.

Good judgment would have said a closed door meeting with no audio or video recording on a sensitive subject as labor relations is a bad idea. Easily a few documented examples of his concerns could have been distributed, a recorded discussion of the governor using the document to explain why they are concerns, followed by a question and answer period. No news story, no controversy, no wasting time defending against accusations that could have been easily averted.

However, some defend the governor as a man of action, a man who gets to the heart of the matter, strips away the BS and gets his message across of what must be done. Many admire his approach, consider it leadership.

Leadership requires both intelligence and intellect. Intelligence is the ability to grasp and complete those tasks that are within a limited, predictable framework, and clearly stated goals. Intelligence is practical in its efforts; it re-orders, re-adjusts, and filters away information that does not seem important in completing the task.

With intelligence as a foundation a leader with intellect examines, theorizes, contemplates the meanings of situations as a whole. A strong leader sees the big picture, understands the impact downstream, and connects the dots. We admire those who through their intelligence get things done, and through their intellect insure the results have a more far-reaching affect than the specific task at hand; they are effective.

A leader’s effectiveness begins with involving others, by building a strong team, having the confidence and a sense of appreciative attachment to depend on them. Many have tried; none have succeeded in knowing everything about their area of responsibility, it is impossible. Those who claim to be fully conversant, talking endlessly without assistance and involvement from others are using their bravado and actions as a wall to hide personal insecurity and a lack of confidence.

Strong leaders look for what others have done well, and seek to build on that success. Rather than focusing on what has gone wrong, strong leaders expect competence creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of team success which becomes the norm. Celebrating success is required; recognizing and firmly correcting failure and incompetence is critical.

If the recent meeting with Unemployment Insurance appeals hearing officers were an isolated incident, it could easily be cast aside. However, there is a two year pattern of controversial situations which would have been mitigated by a more effective use of time in preparation rather than the greater time spent in damage control. As described above effective leaders surround themselves with a good team, whose job is to research and advise, both strategically and tactically. Did the governor’s team do their “homework” or not in advising the governor, did the governor listen or not – we’ll never know.

Less time spent on damage control results in more time spent on job creation, education concerns and other areas which will benefit the citizens of Maine. Why the governor and his advisors have yet to grasp basic time-management and communication skills are two very troubling questions.

This is not Mardens, this is the state of Maine where 1.4 million people look towards their governor for leadership; leadership that has yet to occur from Paul LePage.