Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The tapestry of leadership -- a digest

By Carol Gee

Bloggers have subjects to which they return again and again. Leadership is one of mine. I often write about leadership in the context of politics. Readers of this blog, from the United States and around the world, continue to be interested in the subject. It must be nearing election time. Today's post is a digest of the best ideas from my previous writings, chosen for interest, timeliness and current applicability.

What are the current leadership issues? Are these issues new to 2008, unique for the time, or are they the same ones that drove the other two elections in this century? Which of these pertain to the U.S. and which are more universal? Do readers in other countries want to learn about leadership by looking to the United States model? I raise these questions because I am not sure of the answers. I would be very interested to learn what others think.

In the meantime here are the links to my best previous posts on leadership. Each begins with a teaser phrase and summary, continues with the date and title of the post, and finishes with a quote:

  1. Compare and contrast: Our current president (OCP) continues to provide a perfect foil for how to be a disastrous leader. My most recent post put blogger examples, news stories and current candidate news up against BushWorld examples of "how not to do it." Wednesday, October 31, 2007 -- Leadership qualities, in no particular order -- Quote:

    We see our next national leaders parading through the news of the day. To select the best of the lot we will soon need to pay close attention to each of these people, since the election happens in the next few months. Some of us are beginning to narrow our choices; some are still resisting. Some bloggers are going public with endorsements; some have probably already made their pick, but are not yet telling. I am in the latter group.

    But I do have some leadership criteria. We need a smart principled person with a sense of history, and feet on the ground. . .The President of the United States must have a modicum of sanity. . . The President of the United States must uphold the Constitution. . .The President of the United States must have strong principles. . . The President of the United States must possess a modicum of intelligence.

  2. Tongue in cheek To-Do: This post pokes fun at the ineptitude being displayed by the White House during the early part of this year. It closes with information that remains pertinent for what is now almost the end of this year. Friday, March 23, 2007 -- Today's to-do's: TGIF for Our Current President. Quote:

    I highly recommend a recent "ideas" article by Warren Bennis and Thomas Z. Freedman from Politico titled, "Campaign 2008: The Anatomy of a Great Leader." To quote,
    Amid the horse-race-like coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign and its focus on topics such as electability and likability, it's worth considering which candidate would make the best leader and president. At the end of the day, voters won't be having a beer with the next president, but we will depend on him or her to be a great leader and deal with the daunting challenges of globalization and terrorism.

  3. The White House begins to clean house for the second half of its term: Power, influence and authority are the keys to leadership, according to management theory. This post concentrates on the multiple personnel changes within the current administration's intelligence and foreign affairs functions. Friday, January 05, 2007 -- Politics vs. leadership in foreign policy. Quote:

    Power, influence and authority are the keys to leadership, according to management theory. . . Politics put the Democrats in control of Congress as the new leaders. Now they must exercise power effectively if they are to influence the administration to change direction. Politics defeated the Republican leadership, diminishing their influence, and implicated the leader of the party, our current president (OCP). The American people demanded a new direction for the country in 2007-08, including its foreign affairs policies.

  4. Exploring questions about a variety of world leaders: "Each of these leaders are first or second in command in their nations . . . Haniya leads Hamas, Chavez leads Venezuela, al Hakim leads the Badr Brigade, al Malaki leads Iraq, Bush leads the U.S., Talibani leads Kurds, al Assad leads Syria, Abbas leads Fata, Siniora leads Lebanon, Nasrallah leads Hezbollah, Putin leads Russia, Ahmadinejad leads Iran, Blair leads the U.K., al Sadr leads a militia, Cheney leads neocons, etc." Wednesday, December 06, 2006 -- Who's in the lead? Quote: "Being THE DECIDER is the coveted power position. . . When leadership fails: Each man's personality is different but they can be grouped by psychological trait and style similarities when inappropriately exercising leadership."

  5. Democrats win the Fall elections; now what: Our hopes were high. Republicans had been defeated because of corruption and the conduct of the war in Iraq. This post focused on the idea of the "Servant-leader" as it might apply to new Democrats just elected to office. Monday, December 04, 2006 -- Leadership revisited. Quote:

    . . . On leadership - Readers of S/SW sometimes do blog searches on "leadership qualities," about which I have written in the past. Why is it a recurring subject of interest, very often to readers from abroad? Since my blog is so clearly political/progressive I speculate that it is because of the dearth of good leadership from the current Bush administration. The recent election of large numbers of Democrats to office in states and in the U.S. congress suggests that citizens want new kinds of public servants. Exit polls revealed that the war in Iraq (to more Democrats) and corruption (to more Republicans) were important issues to voters. They are demanding better from those they elect.

  6. The new national reality: What went so wrong for these key Republicans? Written shortly after the election this post explored what happened to several key Republican leaders, namely George Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman. Friday, November 10, 2006 -- Failed Republican Leadership. Quote:

    . . . What is the new national reality? Tuesday's election results spoke about leadership. . . the legislative, has undergone fundamental change, with Democrats now leading at the national law-making level. Voters declared what they were against more than what they were for. They voted against a failed group of Republican leaders, starting at the top.

  7. Speculation that the next day's election might repudiate Republican leadership: This post explored what makes strong leadership in actuality, as opposed to the mistaken image of apparent strength. Stubbornness, intransigence, swagger, and bragadoccio are limiting to leaders, not enhancing. Monday, November 07, 2005 -- Voter anger. Quote: ". . . the current level of voter dissatisfaction might help Democrats in 2006."
  8. JFK School survey results: In addition to naming the best leaders the post explores what people thought about leadership in 2005. Wednesday, October 26, 2005 -- US News names America's Best Leaders. Uses David Gergen material. Quote: ". . . a recent JFK School survey says on what Americans think about their leaders." According to the survey, completed earlier that month:
    •Americans Are Highly Critical of the State of Leadership in the Country
    •Confidence in Specific Leadership Groups Is Mixed –Index Is Highest for
    Military, Medical and Educational Leaders; Lowest for the Press, Executive Branch, and Congress. In the middle are Religious and Non profit, Business, and Local or State government leaders.
    •Americans Most Often Look for Honesty and Integrity in Their Leaders
    •Americans See Themselves as Part of the Leadership Problem for Not
    Being Better Informed
    •Americans Have Some Optimism about the Future of American Leadership
    •Americans Feel the Country Will Be Better Off with More Women in
    Leadership Positions
    •Americans Have Reservations about Government’s Emergency Response
    •Older Americans Are the Most Critical of the Nation’s Leaders
    •Americans Often Respond to Leadership Issues along Partisan Lines.

  9. Google's favorite: This, my original post about leadership, is still the one most often returned by a Google or Yahoo! search on the subject. It includes a list of famous leaders, references about books on leadership, and some of the contrasts between managers and political leaders. Wednesday, October 12, 2005 -- Leadership qualities. A quote:

    . . . What qualities define good leaders? How deep is their need for recognition? How important are people to them? Who do you think about when the word 'leader' is used? Which of your childhood teachers inspired you, and why? Whose biographies did you as a young person? Whose now?

To restate my original questions -- What are the current leadership issues for today and for next year? Are these new and unique issues for the time, or are they the same ones that drove the previous two elections? Which of these pertain to the U.S. and which are more global? Do readers in other countries want to learn about leadership by looking to the United States model? I raise these questions because I am not sure of the answers. I would be very interested to learn what you think. Your comments will put valuable threads in my "work in progress."

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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  • Carol, I am not sure what constitutes a good leader but the experience of the past 7 years says a lot about what constitutes a bad leader. Let me share a few impressions:

    When the next POTUS takes the oath of office, he/she should honor that oath to the extent that civil liberties rights and the separation of powers as defined in the Constitution do mean something to voters, regardless of political affiliation. I would want a new leader to restore the legal checks and balances of our system and not continue the cycle of abuses engineered by this administration.

    I respect humility more than arrogance and swagger. My personal credo is this: A person cannot assimilate new knowledge or act with wisdom with an arrogant attitude. With respect to presidents of the past, we respected those who acted with humility, even when we did not necessarily agree with their policies.

    Partisanship, like arrogance, is not good leadership. It disrespects and disenfranchises the loyal opposition. I am thinking of the 90% approval rating, from liberals and conservatives alike, given to GWB shortly after 9/11. When his attack dog, Carl Rove, inferred that Democrats would give psychotherapy to terrorists, Bush essentially betrayed a fundamental trust at a critical time and squandered all claims to legitimacy. To repeat, partisanship is not leadership.

    Ideology interfers with good decision-making (please do not confuse ideology with values and principles; these are not the same). We have seen far too many examples of ideology resulting in unsound policy across a wide range of issue including: environmental protection, consumr protection, the fair administration of civil rights and election law, energy policy, foreign relations, etc.

    Truth and honesty. Need I say more?

    I could write volumes on this topic but shall leave these few meagre remarks as is. Too bad there is not more reader participation in this thread. More opinions and impressions would be interesting.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:45 PM  

  • swampcracker, what a colorful set of threads you added to my "tapestry." Thanks so much for what you wove.
    I agree that a rich comment thread, at least for the author, is a rewarding experience, but your thoughtful ideas and opinion were very welcome, indeed.

    By Blogger Carol Gee, at 9:20 AM  

  • Carol, if you revisit this topic again (and perhaps you should because it is a timely subject), please let me know. I'll try to brings some friends to the party. Should make it interesting.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:02 PM  

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