Be a Leader Before You Get There: What Political Leaders Can Learn from Coroporate Leaders

Leader – Defined

Leader: a catalyst for the evolution of human-kind

What leaders do: inspire people towards a better future, such that they simultaneously use and expand their potential to achieve that future

These are my operative definitions.

How the Corporate Leader Gains Power

Leadership, and power, is not something you attain or develop once you’ve achieved a position as a leader. Leadership and power are something you grow on the way there, and you keep growing them once you’ve arrived. Like those you are leading, you too must apply and grow your potential along the way.

In corporations proof of leadership, the ability to move the organization forward through the work and commitment of others, is the ticket to earning more formal and informal clout as a leader.

How the Elected Leader Gains Power

This is not the case when leaders are elected by public vote. The candidate who runs the  most successful campaign is granted a leadership office. Unfortunately, negative campaigning, which seems quite popular these days, has little to do with leading people to evolve their talents.

Take the U.S. presidential campaign. Both candidates, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, have, at times, appealed to human kind’s more primitive and less evolved state.

Dear Mitt and Barrack: Try Leading Your Way In

Mitt Romney pits climate change against economic concerns, in but one example of this non-evolutionary approach. It could be called leading backward, when he said,

“President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet. MY promise … is to help you and your family.”

As a country, and a global community we have two, and probably more, compelling problems, to solve. Pitting one against the other is not going to help us evolve, or solve either one. Romney promises to move the country in the wrong direction regarding climate change and plays on our fears to do so. Why? To win his way to the Presidency. This is not leadership. It is self-interest.

In a different situation demonstrating lack of evolutionary leadership, Obama responded to one of Romney’s statements, with the same degree of maturity as a first grader reporting a minor playground slight to the teacher. The goal? Get the other kid in trouble to make yourself look better.

In an attempt at humor, poorly chosen at best, Romney made the following statement on a campaign stop in Michigan.

“Now I love being home in this place where Ann and I were raised, where both of us were born. Ann was born in Henry Ford Hospital. I was born in Harper Hospital. No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate.”

Obama’s campaign responded just minutes later, stating, in part, “…Governor Romney’s decision to directly enlist himself in the birther movement should give pause to any rational voter across America.” Romney’s statement was in poor taste, at best, and inflammatory, at worst. It fuels a preexisting fire that burns away at the standards this country holds for, and of, itself as the world’s greatest democracy. Romeny’s statement however, is not an indication that he has joined the birther movement. The Obama campaign’s over-reaction added fuel to this unnecessary and destructive fire. Furthermore it was used as the introduction to an email fundraiser. Leadership? Not so much.

Are either Mr. Obama or Mr. Romney being or acting…

Evolutionary? No.

Aspirational? Not so much.

Inspiring? Only in the way that a good fight inspires people to cheer for one competitor and root for the defeat of the other.

For the good of the country? No, not that either.

Be a leader before you get there

I’d like to see our current president and his contender, Mitt Romney, act presidential while campaigning, not promise us they will do so after the fact. They would be well advised to take a page from the corporate leaders’ play book. Don’t throw the organization under the bus, just so you can climb your way to the top.

So, Dear Mr. Romney and Mr. President:

Please:

  • Hold the good of United States and its citizens, all of them, front and center
  • Demonstrate evolutionary leadership

Don’t talk about doing so, someday. Do it now.

  • Lead now with the integrity, values, principles, actions, and decisions you claim will be apparent if you win the election – in other words, Walk Your Talk
  • Inspire us to be our best selves, not our most fearful or divisive, so we can be our best country

If you can run a campaign like that, then perhaps you have proven you are the kind of leader who will lead us as “one country…indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

 

 

 

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