They Need to Fix It. They – Who?

Pop! Culture sometimes reveals everyday leadership better than any scholar. If you have ever wielded authority – as a boss, parent, owner, manager, principal, superintendent – and you have never viewed Oscar Rogers’ take on last year’s financial meltdown, then do yourself a 1-minute 59-second favor and watch this hilarious Saturday Night Live video before you go any further. (It won’t kill you to start Monday with a laugh.)

I don’t know about you, but I especially love the part at about 1:40 where straight man Seth Meyers asks Oscar to move beyond the “fix it” prescription to at least tell us who should “fix it.” The apoplectic Oscar blurts out “they” should – they broke it; they need to fix it. The video underlies the absurdity of the notion that Obama, Geithner, Bernanke or some other superhero can reverse the effects of literally millions of bad decisions by lenders, borrowers, speculators, regulators, and executives. If, and as, people build their savings, banks revalue and write off toxic assets, companies get leaner and healthier, and government plays a constructive role, we’ll get out of this mess. If there are any magic wands, they’re like rooftop solar panels or backyard wind spires: it’s gonna take a lot and it’s gonna take a while.

Jen and Jack and I saw “This Is It,” the movie about the making of Michael Jackson’s never-to-be-held-concert. Despite the movie’s unsurprising Michael-centric indulgences, the producers also revealed and celebrated the enormity of talent and teamwork among the dancers, technicians, musicians, choreographers and others who were building the show. Michael was a complicated, afflicted, unusual and controversial person. And he was inspirational and poetic. In the concert he planned to rally people around defending the environment, and in one short passage, he says it’s up to us to do it. He says so many people think “they will take care of it,” and then he stunningly asks in two words, “They, who?”

Oscar Rogers shows how we follow with our worst, fearful self, crying like children, “Fix it.” And Michael, like him or not, asks the everyday leader’s question, “They, who?”

They me, they you.

Lead with your best self,