Leaders in a Celebrity Culture, part 2

October 11, 2008 at 9:18 pm Leave a comment

     Leaders need to know the people they’re leading.  This is an obvious one, but they can’t serve the people or even do a good job leading if they are out of touch with the people.  But at the same time, they cannot be unduly swayed by opinions.  A leader has to be able to discern the long-term effects and what the people really need, even if it is unpopular.

      The life of a leader is very difficult indeed, and it is always filled with tension.  He’s always fighting between responding to the people he leads and telling them a hard decision that will advance the agenda.  Leaders have to be willing to lead when they need to make tough decisions (this brings up memories of General Dwight Eisenhower and his D-Day plan), when it’s hard, and when it’s not fun – perhaps it’s ordinary and mundane.  But they have to be willing to embrace leadership in all its forms to truly be serving the people. 

      George Washington has a memorable quote on this topic.  He hated being responsible for the fate of the Revolutionary War, but his leadership was invaluable.  Commenting on this, he wrote, 

     “I have often thought how much happier I would be if instead of taking command I would have taken my musket upon my shoulder and joined the ranks.”  

     Leadership isn’t as glamorous as it looks. 

      One final thought, which is no less important but which most have mastered, is to have vision.  A leader needs to be able to recognize reality, but also see a way to change it and work towards that goal.  And in an age where progress is worshipped, he needs to be able to look at and learn from the past.  He can’t be a true leader without the training and hard work it takes to get there. 

      And we the people, who are perhaps more often followers than leaders (even a president only leads for 4 or 8 years of his entire life, right?), need to know that there will never ever be a perfect leader.  They’ll always let us down at some point, because they’re human too.  Sometimes the top of that pedestal gets dusty.

     And these thoughts go way beyond presidential elections.  

 

(Many thanks go out to the training I received this summer at Patrick Henry College’s Roots of Leadership camp for these ideas).

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Entry filed under: Politics.

Finding Leaders in a Celebrity Culture, pt 1 Is Bad News Good for Obama?

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