Leadership Is The Answer


Fortune Magazine just released its list of the world’s top leaders.

Interestingly, no candidate running for president on either side of the divide made the list which was topped—somewhat controversially—by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

Bezos was the recent focus of a New York Times expose’ detailing some pretty tough working conditions at the Seattle based company. Fortune’s editors acknowledged the piece and said that Amazon will probably never make the list of `best places to work’ but noted Bezos’ business acumen and the disruptive business model he has employed to challenge and or beat everyone from Walmart to Barnes & Noble.

While there’s no doubt that Bezos has changed the world, I find it hard to fully admire someone who doesn’t create a good culture in the workplace. While Amazon may be an outlier in terms of performance, my guess is that most companies, organizations or governments can’t thrive unless they get their culture right.

A friend recently asked me what I felt were the biggest issues facing Boca Raton and Delray Beach.

Was it education? Drug addiction? Crime? The sober house/ rehab industry? Overdevelopment? Traffic? Affordable housing?


The biggest challenge we face as a community and as a nation is leadership, or the lack thereof.

Leadership matters.

If you attract, retain, cultivate, grow and support leadership in your schools, companies, organizations, non-profits and communities you can pick the problem and be assured that good leadership will either solve it or make a noticeable difference.

Good leadership makes the intractable, tractable. And the opposite is also true. Without solid leadership it’s hard to make a dent in problems and just as hard to seize opportunities.

On the national level, this election is certainly unlike any other we’ve seen. I have friends who are all over the philosophical map—conservatives, liberals, moderates and people who usually don’t pay any attention to politics. But this year it seems everybody is paying at least some attention and most of the people I know cannot believe what they are witnessing.

Regardless of your views, it’s hard to make an argument that this is a contest between our best and brightest minds—leaders who are equipped to tackle an increasingly complex and dangerous world.

I’ve heard the words “scary” “surreal” and “embarrassing” used frequently.

This brings us to the local level; where government is closest to the people.

One of the scary trends I’ve seen is the diminishing number of people who vote despite increases in population.

When the universe shrinks, a small number of people can exercise control over the many that choose—inexplicably– not to have a voice.

Consider these numbers in Delray Beach.

In 1990, there were 26,330 registered voters in Delray. The landmark vote that elected Tom Lynch mayor and Jay Alperin and David Randolph to the commission attracted 41.54 percent of eligible voters. Randolph earned 7,720 votes.

In 2014, less than 6,500 votes were cast in the Delray municipal election. In 2015, less than 7,000 votes were cast in a hotly contested mayoral election. The winner had less than half the votes that Randolph earned 25 years prior in a city that had far less people. The turnout was 16 percent.

That’s not a sign of civic health.

Boca’s not any better. In 2015, there were slightly less votes cast in Boca than in Delray, despite Boca being a much larger city.

In 2014, about 11,000 votes were cast. There are nearly 60,000 registered voters in Boca.

Low voter turnout is not necessarily a symptom of poor leadership, but the more people that pay attention to local issues the better. And if they pay attention they may get involved and that should certainly improve the pool of candidates.

If we want to solve problems and seize opportunities, we need good people at all levels of government participating in our Democracy. It’s that simple and that hard.




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