Leadership is held by few, pretended by many

I’ve been thinking a lot about leadership these last few days. I’ve been watching it, learning from it, discouraged by the lack of it, and so on and so forth.

Leadership is defined in the Webster’s New World dictionary as “the position or guidance of a leader.” So, obviously you go to the dictionary for the definition of leader: “a person or thing that leads; directing, commanding, or guiding head, as of a group or activity.” In other words, the definitions leave much to be desired. They are no help in defining what a leader is or does or whatever comes next.

I do know what a leader is not. It is not someone who follows the whim of the many. And yet that is what we get today. We get those striving for approval, regardless of the principle. They want to be accepted, loved. We all want to that. But if we take up the mantle of leader we must be willing to be rejected for leading.

Everyone wants to be liked. We all want to be acknowledged, applauded and ultimately loved. Truth is that a leader cannot be loved. Just can’t. Sometimes it does happen and that’s terrific. But those forced to make choices must be married to the choice, not to the people. There has to be a devotion to principle.

There is  a saying that I ascribe to and that is that “principle before personality.” There has to be choices driven by principles not driven by personalities. Of course, principles will affect people. Absolutely. But most principles are positive in their outcome.

Doing the right thing, is such a principle. What is best for the whole, but still respecting the few, is another. Truth, honor, loyalty. These are some as well. Most say “yes” to people. But that is a byproduct not the product.

Leadership is accountability for the principle that drives you. That’s that.

What we end up with, usually, is a show of some kind. Some form of performance that masquerades as leadership. There so many performers in today’s world, we have forgotten what leadership looks like.

Leaders should inspire us to reach for the stars; to do better than we are doing. All we really get is another day of survival. Just keep surviving, moving forward. Paying the bills, cleaning house and taking care of those who’ve come to depend on you. Just get through another day.

You’re probably asking why am I writing about this? I’ve just been thinking about it, is all. Ruminating about qualities that inspire, lead me to a better place. Funny thing about all this is that the only thing that I can think of that inspires is that HBO television show “The Newsroom.”

It’s not on the air now. I’m told it has been picked up for a new season. I sure hope so. It inspires me to be a better person. It inspires me to stand up for principles I believe in. It inspires in every way. I miss it. I hope it comes back soon. I like being inspired. Talk soon.


About stevewhitmore

Former award-winning newspaperman and broadcast journalist, both radio and TV, spanning three decades. Army-trained paralegal, court bailiff and prosecutor's lead investigator for the 8th Infantry Division's Judge Advocate General's Corp., Mainz, Germany. 1973-1975.
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