Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

Leadership

September 2, 2008

We’ve heard incessant nattering this presidential campaign about “celebrities”. “Celebrity” isn’t important, though. It is more a side effect than a core issue, and one which can come from a good trait (leadership), or from a bad trait (spotlight-seeking). So let’s shift the discussion just a half degree: what is “Leadership”, and what does it mean in the context of this election?

Giving a good speech is vital to leadership, for how else can you bring clarity to issues for the masses?

Having 38 million people tune in to watch you speak is a reflection of your leadership. It doesn’t prove leadership, but its absence would cast doubt on your leadership abilities.

Leading a country doesn’t require you to be the smartest person in every room, nor does it require you to be the most informed on every issue at every moment. Leadership requires the ability to motivate others to do that which you can not do, the curiosity and intellectual honesty to examine others’ opinions and facts and separate the wheat from the chaff, the guts to stand behind the right choice even when it is not the most popular one, and the communication skills to convince others that they should stand with you.

We in the US have been bullied into believing that the Presidency exists to stamp all policies and actions with the imprint of the values system of the man elected that office. It is not, and should not be. The Republic is a Representative Democracy: we elect representatives who in turn should reflect our will and our interests.

We do not need another egotist reigning over the laws of the land as his personal civics experiment. Instead, we need a leader: someone who can motivate us to do the great works of a great country, who can be bothered to arbitrate the issues of the day and come up with the best answer at least most of the time, who can stand firm in his convictions, and who can explain loud and clear why he is doing what he is doing so that we can know plain and clear why we should do what we need to do.

That man, in my honest opinion, is Barack Obama. But, electing him to office is not the extent of our responsibility.

In the LDS church we pledge to support and sustain our leadership and helpers. Which means, whenever called by a member to assist in their job in the Church, we pledge to do whatever necessary to help him complete it. Obviously, that doesn’t mean the fellow in charge of setting up the chairs in the overflow part of the chapel can expect me to come over to paint his house, and it also doesn’t mean that that fellow could expect me to help him set the chairs up facing the wrong direction. But, inasmuch as it is clear the member is properly executing his own calling, we are duty-bound to assist wherever necessary and practical.

In the US there is no such language in the voting booth, but perhaps there should be. Our duty can not end when the votes are tallied and a new President has been elected. He will need our help, and he will call on us for our help. We must be ready to answer.

In the end, he will need to lead us, not just in a perfunctory manner to do what we would do anyway, but in a daring and tough manner to do that which we don’t even think is possible.

That is leadership. That is why 38 million people tuned in to a 45-minute speech, more than tuned in to the Olympic opening ceremonies. That is why Obama has been featured on magazine covers and profiled in countless articles. And, most importantly: that trait, leadership, is exactly what this country has been lacking for the past eight years and what we desperately need for the next eight.