The recent passing of two prominent Americans, Senator John McCain and Aretha Franklin, has me thinking about the importance of leadership.
While Aretha Franklin was not a political leader, she was a revered cultural figure, and her songs were inspirational soundtracks to two major events in American history - the Civil Rights Movement and Women's Movement. Through her music, she inspired us to be better and to have and give RESPECT.
Senator John McCain was a great American. His love for our country, and his personal sacrifices were unparalleled in modern times. The marks of his character were his sense of duty, sense of fairness, and service to his country. These characteristics, among others, made John McCain a true leader.
Leadership is the ability to get out of one's self, serve others, and inspire others to be the best version of themselves. Good leaders are not flawless, but they recognize and admit their mistakes and shortcomings and strive to do better. Good leaders inspire us to do good things and to do the right thing, not for financial gain or political expediency, but for the betterment of all.
Good leaders are selfless and are willing to sacrifice for the good of the whole and encourage others to do the same - because we are each a part of something bigger than ourselves.
Good leaders can be humble and be willing to accept advice and criticism from the people they serve and the people who serve them. They react responsibly and appropriately to bad news and unfavorable feedback without exacting revenge on their critics.
As they manage crises, good leaders demonstrate stability by enlisting the support of their staff and acting appropriately upon information gathered from their appointees. Knowing that it is impossible for them to have all of the answers, they welcome an open exchange of ideas. Good leaders foster a culture of support. They don't throw their people "under the bus" when there is controversy. Good leaders have your back.
Good leaders tend to have a sense of humor and can laugh at themselves while not belittling others. They lift our spirits and inspire us to look at our commonalities and not dwell on the differences that divide us.
These are the characteristics of a good leader. Through the course of our community, family, professional, social, or political lives, we will be called to leadership roles. We must hold ourselves and other leaders to these standards.
Dr. Pierre Charles