Leadership, is about those you lead, the need for servant leadership in government.
“Leaders instill in their people a hope for success and a belief in themselves. Positive leaders empower people to accomplish their goals.”- Unknown
There is an axiom in the military when talking about military leaders, “its lonely at the top.” Leaders must be able to stand on their own either out in front of those under their charge in crisis or behind them cheering from the sidelines as those in their charge bask in the glory of success. In today’s political environment the political leadership at the top cannot stand alone. The need to have an opponent someone to go against someone to compare against, “see, what about him” or “I did not do it but have you seen what the other person did.” This type of leadership is toxic and erodes the confidence and trust of all those who follow. Very rarely in American history has leadership not been able to stand alone and say “this is me, this is what I believe.” Today we find ourselves in this very position. While in the past one may have disagreed with the person but at least you know where they stood and could agree to disagree. Leadership is the ability to have everyone pull in the same direction even if they disagree, a leader makes them understand the need for the greater good outweighs the need of the individual. It is the lack of leadership to compel agreement and instead asking to address grievances that has brought us to a governmental paralysis. This paralysis creates seams and gaps for opportunists and peddlers of misinformation to break apart the fabric of society and driving society to go to their tribe or where they feel most protected and represented. Leaders who fight this and look to bring the team together in a collaborative fashion and fight these type of individuals carry the day and become the thing of legends, see Lincoln, Churchill, Kennedy or Reagan as a few examples of top level leadership that fought these imposters.
A Jack of all trades, a Master of none.
When leaders step out in front they must be several things a uniter, a communicator and one of moral fortitude so when the light is shown on their behavior of the past they do not run from it, they don’t point to another person to distract or try to compare themselves to other bad actors so it does not seem so bad, they embrace it.
The best leaders are those who serve those they lead. There is no glory seeking, there is not betterment to lines one pockets or ego. Leaders think other before self and live by a code that when failure happens, I did it, the failure is because of me. When there is success the team succeed and the leader just happened to be apart of it. A team’s success is a reflection of the leadership but that is only because the leadership established the code, the creed, the guiding principles and guardrails of success.
Code and Creed
Code, the one thing we don’t seem to have anymore. John Wayne best describe it “a man has to have a code, a creed to live by.” The guiding principle that someone can point to and say “this is who I am am, this is what defines me.” This lack of definition of what defines an American and what defines us is a contributing factor. The lack of a code or creed turns us into a transactional society not one that puts country and neighbor first. It is code and creed that made America the post-WWII leader and leader of the Cold War. Critics will point to the economic engine that gave the U.S. the leadership role, that’s true but it is the better idea, security for freedom of choice and leadership that made them stay.
What will keep the U.S. in a leadership role is its sense of self not its economics or its attempt to correct perceived wrongs. It is the ideas that are embedded in the Constitution. U.S. military and government officials take an oath to the Constitution and its principles. That oath is not to a person, place, thing or party, it is to an idea. It is a oath to protect, defend, preserve the Constitution and the principles contained therein. Leaders reaffirm this everyday through actions and words. Through these actions and words they create an environment that creates opportunity. Our interconnected world and the cross over between public and private sector should compel private sector leadership to also affirm its commitment to such ideals through actions and business ethics. The success of people like Jaime Dimon and Warren Buffet are good examples of such private sector leadership that often espouse such values that are sworn to by government and military officials and workers. It is commitment to the idea’s within the Constitution, either directly or indirectly that generate the opportunists that allowed for greatness of the U.S. either in building of the Hoover Dam or the advent of companies such as Facebook or Amazon.
Opportunity- the crux of our problems.
There are several points of view as to what is causing all the acrimonious rhetoric in the U.S. but ultimately it is opportunity or lack thereof. The ability to move up and improve ones position is becoming a narrower path, mainly through technology advancement, the stock market, or inherited wealth. Those who have a higher degree of education or trained in technical degrees have more opportunities in front of them or they have the ability to generate the opportunity because their financial situation allows them to create the opportunity. Those who have more of a hands on centric employment struggle to generate the same opportunity, they can but not without a Herculean effort and even then its a high risk endeavor. The essence of leadership at all levels is the ability to create opportunity for those in their charge. The ability to create opportunity is the difference between those who are managers and those who are leaders.
The charge of leader is to place those in their charge into a positions and create environments that present or generate opportunity. The acrimonious political environment we find ourselves in is really about that opportunity and a leveling of playing fields. Following the 2016 election the media analyzed as to why Clinton lost, the consensus was it was a change election that was more about the downward mobility the working class and the limiting of opportunities to those who worked hard to achieve the American dream. The first leader to capture the essence of this and talks of opportunity, the ability to create it and then cheer on the sidelines as the American public walks by in glory will be the leader that brings American back to center and civil conversation.