The top three fatal errors you can make as a leader are:

  1. Failing to leverage your market position
  2. Negotiating with irrational forces
  3. Not articulating your vision with vigor

This “don’t” checklist works for business, consumer and personal brands. The deadly dangerous part is this: you have to be right with all three rules if you want to succeed in your category. Do one wrong and your headed for #epicfail or a descent to 99¢ Only Stores (or whatever your version of marketing Hades is).

You may recall this paragraph from a prior post of mine. I dissected the Republican presidential candidates on their bizarre embrace of death as a vote-getting strategy.

Death remains a bizarre platform because conservative Republicans /Tea Partiers like to tout their “pro-life” agenda, which seems only to cover women who are pregnant, and not when they (or anyone else) is not.

Republican debate audiences get weirder and weirder in their outbursts. A few weeks ago they were applauding for death to anyone who cannot afford health insurance. This last week in Florida, the audience booed a solider serving in Iraq – a man who is sacrificing his safety to ensure our freedom. The sticking point is that he is gay. As of last week he can be gay in the military. Actually he was gay before the DADT rule changed, but he would have lost his right to serve had he not waited before he sent in his video question to the candidates.

Candidate Rick Santorum addressed the audience with an ”abstinence for all” rule. “There should be no sex in the military,” he pronounced. Once again, the anti-life theme: no sex, no babies. At least they are consistent. (By the way, if you don’t know Santorum, just Google him.)

The Democratic Party is even weirder. US President Obama insists on not leading the nation. He compromises until he is so bendy, he could star in Cirque de Soleil. His is reaching so far, that he is now promoting a job plan that was fundamentally the Republican agenda until he took it, and now they reject it!

Why is this first son (as nearly all US Presidents are) so taken with hand-me-downs? Has he had a speech where he hasn’t credited Republicans with half or more of the ideas he propounds?

This couldn’t be bipartisanship – that’s when the two sides work together. Leaders have to learn when irrational forces – like speculation, such as the mob fever that caused the tech boom bust or the mortgage for all turned foreclosure for many – is simply not a sustainable trajectory.

Yet President Obama seems bent on self-congratulations that while ineffective, he has been wildly reaching across the chasm to the people who have said – out loud –that they will do anything to take down his presidency. This is not a handshake across the aisle; this is a free fall into the abyss.

Why did he fail to leverage his political capital and instead play so long a delay game, that he gave the Tea Party its grand entrance in the congressional elections two years after he won his job?

And, why does the president only use the bully pulpit and call for our attention and action, when the airwaves and our brains have been stocked full of whatever the Republicans have propounded?

For example, last week Republican Michele Bachmann came out against ALL taxes! Now that’s both completely irrational and very compelling! Even the third of the country that is so impoverished they can’t buy food much less pay taxes swoon when they hear there is a magical pot of gold that will pay for roads, schools, police, firefighters and the salaries of congressional representatives – like Michele Bachmann!

We had to wait for Warren Buffett and Mark Cuban to say that as billionaires they want to pay more taxes? That’s what President Obama waited for before he recommended that secretaries pay a lower tax rate than their hedge fund bosses?

Leaders must seize the day, everyday. They don’t have time for small talk about big problems. They don’t suffer fools.

It’s time to shout or get out.


Nance Rosen is the author of Speak Up! & Succeed. She speaks to business audiences around the world and is a resource for press, including print, broadcast and online journalists and bloggers covering social media and careers. Read more at NanceRosenBlog. Twitter name: nancerosen