What is myopic leadership, and why is it so dangerous? It is a condition where those in positions where they should behave as leaders, only seem to see the issue or issues directly at hand, and only consider short- term, short- sighted solutions. This type of near- sighted leadership often creates a false sense of security because it creates a short- term fix that may address an immediate concern, without taking into consideration the cause or causes of the challenges, and the longer term ramifications. This is most commonly witnessed in organizations that face either membership attrition (or other issues), or fiscal challenges and/ or adversities. Thomas Jefferson said, “A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time.”
1. Many organizations in recent years have seen their membership rolls diminish for a variety of reasons. Certain myopic leaders have addressed this by granting reduced dues or free memberships, blaming circumstances, or raising dues and/ or fees in order to compensate for the dwindling revenues being received from a smaller membership base. Granting reduced or free memberships may artificially inflate numbers, and thus give an organization a false sense of security, because experience shows that the vast majority of these individuals are not committed, and will not remain members when they must contribute dues, etc. This is far different than merely granting dues relief to those in hardship situations, which is often a superb long- term approach to build committed and grateful members. Blaming anything may make someone feel like they have deflected responsibility, but blame is neither a solution nor a trait of a true leader. Raising dues may seem like it would raise revenues, but in many cases, unless it is accompanied by an increase in perceived value, actually diminishes the membership numbers even further.
2. Rather than examine the causes of negative trends, myopic leaders immediately reduce expenditures. Often, this draconian approach is counter- productive, because members feel like they are being taken granted of, and/ or many feel that the organization loses much of its relevancy because of the reduced services and/ or programs, etc., being provided. A true leader looks at the big picture, examines all aspects of revenue and expenses, and prioritizes them, based on the true needs of the organization. In financial matters, that means to make decisions via a zero- based budgeting procedure, where every cost is looked at, and decisions are made as to what works and what does not, what the needs are, and what is the best way to achieve the mission of the organization.
Many myopic leaders are hailed as saviors when they make their short- term fixes. However, those that follow organization leadership realize that in the long run they are often disastrous to the group.