Did Dave hit the doom loop?

Posted September 28, 2009 in Latest News & Insights

Let’s put the theory of the last blog post into action as we consider the recent announcement by Toronto Mayor David Miller NOT to seek re-election in 2010. According to various news outlets, Miller’s closest advisors were “shocked” by the decision (which Miller says he started considering in 2006).

Of course, the critics are all accusing Miller of ousting himself before the public have a chance to ditch him, but I think this is a legit example of the doom loop in action.

Here is a guy who found himself in stage 3 on a quick spiral to stage 4 (some may say he’s already there)… in a job he didn’t like anymore that he was still (arguably) good at. But in this case the “didn’t like” factor wasn’t to do with boredom on the job but rather with the emergence of a deep personal priority. Miller, himself raised by a single Mom, has found it increasingly difficult not spending time with his kids. This nagging core value began to outweigh the excitement of his role as Mayor and he decided to quit before the kids were out the door with nothing but vague memories of their dad making an occasional appearance at family events.

And I say, “Congratulations David Miller for having the guts to stand up and follow your values!” For all those pundits out there at are bashing the decision and labeling the “family factor” a cop out… get a grip. As the old adage goes… no one on their death bed wishes they’d spent more time at work. It’s refreshing to see a committed, talented leader make such a brave choice… and sticking to it, despite what I am sure are many upset people in his camp wanting him to take a run at a 3rd term.

And here, my friends, is a further lesson in the application of the doom loop. Sometimes, it’s not the boredom factor that kicks in… it’s life. We talk a lot in organizations about trying to “retain” talent. The reality is… people are complex and there is no way of predicting how life is going to affect you or anyone else. You can’t really retain people… but you can retain water! As leaders, we can create the conditions that help people stay “engaged”, but if there are bigger factors at play, the best you can do is support them as they transition to their next journey.

It will be interesting to see how Miller lasts out his term given that he’s already made the decision “to check out”. But that’s a topic for another post. In the meantime, remember that, despite your best efforts as a leader… you may not be able to keep all the people, all of the time and that your values are something one should never compromise. No matter how exciting the job.

Happy leading!


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