Looking at Leadership

“The joy of a leader can often be seen in the joy of those being led.”

Photo by Justin Cron

By John Dunia

No one would argue the value of having a great leader. In last week’s post, some of the qualities of leadership were discussed (click here to read it). When attempting to characterize positive attributes of a strong leader, many look to the past and cite examples of those whom history has touted as successful. But is this always the most prudent method?

One of the most highly regarded and respected “founders” of the United States of America was its first President, George Washington. While historians have recorded a stellar reputation for him, many of his contemporaries vehemently disagreed. Thomas Paine penned a scathing letter denouncing Washington as “a hypocrite in public life” and going as far as implying that he had forsaken any good principles.

A little research will uncover numerous disparities, bitter disagreements, and public feuds between many of those who fashioned the fledgling nation. While there is no objective to tarnish any of their reputations, it’s important to understand the history of leadership in context.

Progress comes by looking forward. Wisdom comes from observing and studying the past; not only to eliminate or avoid mistakes but also to refine and polish the finer attributes forged by great leaders.

Our world is in a constant state of change and while at times seems very flawed, a true leader strives to become aware of those faults and works to change them for the benefit of those being led. It’s important that fairness, equality, and integrity fuel the force behind why a leader takes that position. Sacrifice is a given and at times, risks his or her own life solely for the purpose and benefit of others.

Unfortunately, many who profess to be leaders have taken advantage of their position for lucrative gains. Others have usurped the legislative process and established laws intended only for their benefit. They have no empathy much less guilt for cementing laws designed to crush the rights and oppress those who remotely resist their selfish intentions. In fact, they will even try to make those they’ve devastated feel ashamed for their dissent.

Great leaders will accept the responsibility when things go awry, even when they weren’t responsible. When something goes wrong under their watch, they sense an urgency to re-right the situation. Finger pointing and shifting blame are techniques used by pseudo-leaders because that only serves to divide and polarize their constituents. There are plenty of contemporary examples and some of these may be heading past a point of no return.

Perhaps the difficulty lies in finding outstanding leadership and giving them the recognition they most certainly deserve. Those who have only the best intentions rarely get accolades owed them simply because they don’t need it and aren’t searching for it.

It’s high time that these examples are the ones which garner the spotlight and are brandished for their selfless and gallant outcomes. If you have a story of extraordinary leadership, tell us about it in the comments. Many thanks to Justin Cron for the beautiful picture.

 

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