I have a challenge for you.
If you are a business leader at the very top of your game, it will help you avoid career stagnation. And in so doing, it will also contribute to solving
a broader problem: broken government.
A recent Gallup survey shows a record -high 81% of Americans are dissatisfied with the way the country is being governed. So here it goes:
I challenge you to do a two-year, fulltime stint in government leadership, and to do it before your 70th birthday.
“What?” you might be thinking. “I would never work in government.”
That is what I used to believe. Then in December of 2010, I received an e-mail that changed my perspective, and my life. It was from a client who was running the transition effort for the newly elected governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper, who is a former entrepreneur. He asked if I would be willing to donate some consulting time to assist in selecting top leaders for his cabinet. I nearly said no, because I thought it would be an exercise in futility. Weren’t all
cabinet hires just political decisions?
What I discovered, much to my shock, was that at least in this one case, a governor wanted to make hiring decisions based not on politics, but on leadership talent. I also found that a private-sector leader who goes into government does not necessarily have a miserable time. Rather, a stint in government leadership can be the most fulfilling and exciting leadership adventure of a lifetime.
I’m not here to urge you to do a stint in government because others will benefit. There will be no “Do your patriotic duty” platitudes from me. As a corporate leader, you have already contributed value by building successful businesses, bringing innovative and high-quality products and services to market, and creating jobs. You have paid far more in taxes than the value of services you have received from government. You don’t “owe” your country anything at this
So let’s say you are finally at the head of the boardroom table, finally calling the shots, finally making an impact on a global scale. This is the moment
when you should be detecting the landmine lying hidden ahead. You find yourself beginning to wonder, “Is this it?” Or worse yet, “Gosh, what am I going to do next?” If that prospect of career stagnation is looming, make the Leadocracy Pledge today. It is a commitment to yourself to do a two-year full-time stint in an appointed role in government by your 70th birthday.
To help make that plan a reality, I’ve created a non-profit, The Leaders Initiative, which matches private sector leaders with government roles. It’s modeled after Teach For America, and the flagship chapter is up and running in Colorado, in service of Governor Hickenlooper.
Just agree to do a stint in government because it will be one of the best experiences in your life.
- Geoff is Chairman & Founder of ghSMART. Geoff is co‐author, with his colleague Randy
Street, of the New York Times bestselling book Who: The A Method for Hiring and the author
of the #1 Wall Street Journal bestseller Leadocracy: Hiring More Great Leaders (Like You) into
Government. Geoff co‐created the Topgrading brand of talent management. Geoff is the
Founder of two 501c3 not‐for‐profit organizaons. SMARTKids Leadership Program™ provides
10 years of leadership tutoring and The Leaders Iniave™ seeks to deploy society’s
greatest leaders into government. Geoff earned a B.A. in Economics with Honors from Northwestern
University, an M.A., and a Ph.D. in Psychology from Claremont Graduate University.