Sunday Question Post: Leadership

Peripherally related to this week’sspeaking engagement, I’d like to know from all of you:

What defines leadership? Who is a leader to you, and why?

A.

13 thoughts on “Sunday Question Post: Leadership

  1. hoppy says:

    A leader has to be able to determine exactly where his followers are, and in what direction they are leaning. Then, he can, by use of good speaking and writing ability, pull them in a better direction, not drastically different from that in which they are leaning, but constantly moving to the “right” direction.
    A “leader” who tries to force his followers to make great changes, will usually fail to lead. A “leader” who is unable to speak effectively lacks the tools to lead. And, a leader who doesn’t seek to nudge his followers always towards the better direction is not leading.
    Obviously, a good leader can lead in any direction, either very good or very bad – that distinction doesn’t change the fact that the leader is a good leader. Hitler was a good leader. Churchill was a good leader.

  2. MapleStreet says:

    In a definition that I’m mulling over and can’t justify from anywhere.
    I’m reading Cesar Millan’s (aka The Dog Whisperer) book “Be the Pack Leader” Most of the book is naturally tied to his philosophy of directed purpose / calm assertive in being the leader of your dog. But then in Chapter 7 he brings up the corallary of how the primal instincts which denote a pack leader in the canine world also translate into choosing a pack leader in the human world. (And interesting idea that every candidate for office should have to demonstrate how they walk a dog as the dog sees straight through the veneer into the person inside).
    It got me thinking of how the leader sees the direction to go and directs a confidant energy in that direction.
    But what happens if the leader is a dolt? They can still demonstrate the confident motion, but if they never realize that they’re going in the wrong direction, they will lead in the wrong direction and the pack will follow. Does this explain the 25% (cf. Dean’s book on Conservatives without conscience – there are some who will follow authority no matter what).

  3. notanumber says:

    I am sick and fucking tired of this “leadership” meme.
    All I want are “representatives”. That is what we are supposed to have. If we simply had representatives we would be out of Iraq, we would have health insurance, we would have a balanced budget, living wages, fair trade, no torture, product safety …
    So please STFU, grow up, bury your desire for “leadership daddies” and just seek represenatives that will do the peoples bidding! The people know best!

  4. FastMovingCloud says:

    I have to say that I think notanumber nailed it. We aren’t supposed to have individual leaders in this country; we are supposed to elect representatives to follow the lead of the people. If the citizens would wake up and give one tenth of the attention to affairs of state that they give to Paris Hilton or the War on Christmas, the country would not be in the mess in which we currently find ourselves.
    Unfortunately, we have political parties that have convinced the American public to abdicate their responsibility and look the other way while they do as they damned well please. It isn’t working out very well.

  5. pluege says:

    Dodd is a leader because he stood up for what is right. He is the first leader we’ve seen in Washington DC in 7 years. What a remarkable sight.
    .

  6. hoppy says:

    We have something over 200,000,000 people in this country. That makes it impossible to run the government if you are not a leader. Depending on the “people”, who were so abysmally stupid they elected Bush president in 2004, knowing exactly how bad he is, is not a viable way to run the country. So, don’t tell me to STFU about leadership. We must have it or we end up with a dictatorship instead.
    Our government is a representative “democracy”, where we chose people we trust to make the day to day decisions for us. They cannot possibly know what the majority of us want at any given time about anything, let alone knowing if even a large minority of us know enough about the particular subject to have a valid opinion.
    If you want your government to just do as the majority of you want, look to your city government. As long as that city isn’t too large, it is possible there. It is utterly impossible for our national government.

  7. Gromit says:

    Leaders are people who help members of his/her group (those “below’ them) accomplish their goals and, when appropriate, help those people to coordinate their activities in order to move in the same direction. A good leader removes unnecessary and artificial barriers that impede the work of group members so that they can focus on their work, and actively encourages creativity and initiative among group members. When necessary and appropriate the group leader defends his group members like a mother bear defends her cubs. Hope this helps.

  8. pansypoo says:

    thinking what is good for america and not themselves OR THEIR PARTY seems good.

  9. Paul in LA says:

    I think a distinction has to be made between moral leadership and political leadership. Moral leadership is a component of following one’s own moral path fullheartedly. Martin Luther King Jr. was a natural leader, because he followed his own moral intuitions about what is right, fullheartedly.
    I think politicans lose their moral leadership as they compromise, but compromise is basic to government, so for polticians leadership is more complex, and a rather less morally pure form. But because of that, the concept of political leadership has to be qualified as “morally good” political leadership. Leading us over a cliff might be very effective, but it is hardly “leadership.”
    Political leadership is to remain basically good, while doing everything possible to produce positive change and bring as many people along as possible and help as many as you can. And it involves great cunning, so naifs and simpletons, saints in their own way, cannot folow such a path.
    In my analysis, Speaker Pelosi is one of the most important leaders of our times. She learned the craft on her father’s knee, and is quite persuasive (in caucus). And she is a liberal, unlike both of her predecessors in the job (Gingrich, who is outright evil, and Hastert, that amoral slug). That’s not to say that she can make a silk purse out of the Republican (and Blue Dog) pig’s ear. But if she keeps rattling the cage they are building for us, she may yet earn her keep and lead us the hell out of it before the door closes. But that fundamentally requires Americans to take up their duty of moral leadership, citizen by citizen. and demand justice. It is not just ‘her fault,’ as so many wish to think.

  10. Paul in LA says:

    “Depending on the “people”, who were so abysmally stupid they elected Bush president in 2004,”
    Hoppy, Bush was not legally elected in 2004, either.
    We caught them stealing the election, and they refused us a court-ordered recount.
    If people keep blaming the public instead of those who are stealing the elections, they are going to get away with it AGAIN. I think the pleasure of scapegoating the public is not worth that.

  11. MapleStreet says:

    Of course, the founding fathers put certain limits on democracy. (I might add that seeing the future problems – as well as the rosy picture – and taking steps to prevent them is a form of leadership).
    Its a democracy, if you can keep it.
    Plato held that a democracy was the lowest form of government.
    One reason for being a republic and the odd structure of our government was the belief that a good number of people had neither the access to information nor the inclination for thought.

  12. BuggyQ says:

    I’ve thought a lot about this in recent years. I’ve been teaching World War II and talking about Churchill and FDR, and one of the things I noticed about both of them (that is conspicuously lacking in the current resident) is that they were able to motivate their nations to “do their bit.” London suffered the equivalent of dozens of 9/11s during the Blitz, and they didn’t crumble. They worked harder, they collected scrap metal, they knitted gloves for the boys, they manned the fire watch that saved St. Paul’s Cathedral.
    It’s not that Churchill gave them the ability to do all that–they had that within them, just as we have so much within us. What Churchill did was to recognize the power in that and give it an outlet. We’re all waiting to do *something*, but our leaders aren’t telling us what.
    I think we all have a pretty good idea of what would have happened had Al Gore been president on 9/11. That SNL sketch was absolutely right. Look at what he’s been able to inspire without a stitch of real power. Gore would have put the federal government to work getting the mechanisms in place to *allow* people to put their anger and hurt and frustration and fear to work building things.
    It’s like when somebody dies, and all the friends and family want to *do* something for the people hurt most. Leadership is the person who recognizes that need, and tells you, “Make casseroles or cookies or pie. Find pictures of them together and write down your memories for them. Take their dog for a walk.”
    I want somebody to tell me how to make a national casserole.

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