As the federal government “shutdown” continues, I am struck by what a misnomer that is. The government isn’t shut down – for if it were there would be no air traffic in the U.S. airspace, the president would not be protected by secret service, the troops would no longer be in Iraq or the at the American borders, and your hamburger would not have been inspected.

But as it is, the interstates remain open, the weather service continues to provide data to meteorologists for their forecasts, social security checks are in the mail (which is still delivering) and the animals at the National Zoo continue to be fed (although the zoo itself is closed).

A true government shutdown wouldn’t last a day because it would inconvenience so many people and cause untold disruption. As it is, those impacted are the tourists turned away from national parks and the Smithsonians, federal workers who are going without pay and ordinary citizens trying to get a passport – in other words, those without a prominent microphone or political currency.

Don’t use the federal government as a model for how to enact a shutdown. If your organization faces budget cuts or a policy impasse, call your reduction efforts by what they are instead of falsely labeling them as an organization-wide halt. Partial reductions in service labeled as full shutdowns fail to help others understand the true complexity and value of your enterprise. If you’re ceasing operations, don’t do it halfway. Instead, truly close and leverage the pain to inspire a solution.

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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