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Follow the Leader?

Confessions of a realistic pollyanna

A favourite children's game is follow the leader. Someone is chosen as "It". They perform a different action. Everyone else is expected to follow suit. Then the leader does something else. Again people are expected to follow suit. This continues until a new leader is chosen.

Some parts of the animal kingdom have definite leaders who take charge. The Queen Bee is in charge of the hive. There is one Lion that is in charge of the Pride. And though it is a myth, it was believed lemmings would follow one lemming over the cliff.

I like to think that I know what goes into making a good leader. For me a good leader is someone who can see the big picture in things. They have the ability to make decisions which will benefit the vast majority of people not just for now but for time to come. They take the opportunity to consult with many diverse peoples in order to make decisions which do not favour one group over the other. They are less concerned about their own ego, but are more concerned about the well being of others. They are more concerned about the well being of the world rather than grasping on to power. They see leadership as something that is earned but is never a right that is owned. Leadership means being with people who are hurting. Leadership means reaching out not only to your own supporters, but also those who voted against you. That's what I think true leadership is all about.

Looking around the world right now, I think there are many examples of poor leadership around. In many countries, leaders have been elected who are solely concerned with pleasing those who voted for them. They see the world as being in two camps, us and them, right and wrong. Leaders who have this two fold vision of the world seem to be only concerned with the "us" side and reject those who are on the "them" side. Those who promote this "us" and "them" ideology come from either side of the political spectrum. Take the Republicans and Democrats in the US. They are so divided between and us and them, they can't see any possible good coming from someone on the other side of the political fence.

But wouldn't it be something if an elected party decided to work with the other parties in the legislature to govern cooperatively? Wouldn't it be something if a government would realize that maybe their agenda is not the only agenda or the correct agenda? Wouldn't it be something if a governing party would seek out the position of the opposition parties and see that they too might have some good ideas? Such a government would truly be responsive to the needs of the people.

As well, maybe leaders could be more concerned about being with their own people during times of great crisis rather than using it as an opportunity for political gain. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was widely criticized for staying away on vacation and being more concerned about selling coal, and appealing to his electoral base, rather than being present with people who had lost everything in the recent fires. In contrast, in neighbouring New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern was widely praised for her compassionate presence with the Muslim community after the Christchurch massacre this past March.

Good Leadership. It is not done for glory or personal gain. It is never done as a victory lap. But it means working for all people. It means compromise. It means actively listening to those with different views. It is hard work. But it is what our world requires right now. Blessings.

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