Every human in history has been born with a natural need for someone to lead them as they grow and mature. For children, leadership initially comes from parents, then teachers, then professors, then employers. Along the way, slip in wise friends, pastors, mentors, and even sometimes politicians. But human nature begs for leadership. But that in no way means that everyone has the ability to lead others. And many conflate the two: being led and leading. The differences are vast.
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Just as there are traits that make one a good follower — things like loyalty, honesty, a willingness to listen and learn, and honor — there are traits that are specific to, and required of, leaders.
What is “Leadership?”
Leadership is the art of motivating an individual or a group of people to act toward achieving a common goal or objective. That definition applies to leadership in every area of our lives. A leader understands that and works to personally grasp each element of that definition and make it their own. Then that leader must present the leadership concept to those who will be led, explain the responsibilities of both a leader and a person that is lead, and then implement those things personally while leading followers in adopting and learning themselves.
That seems simple enough, right? To many, it is. But to far too many, it is not.
There’s a high price to pay by one who chooses leadership. The essential element of the cost of leadership is dropping personal preferences and picking up whatever is best for those who are led — in every instance, in every circumstance, without fail. That alone will make or break a leader.
Today in U.S. politics, we have numerous people who govern at local, state, and federal levels who are elected or appointed leaders. Americans typically assume that each of those leaders is qualified to lead in the position they hold, willing to pay the prices that leaders must pay, and then led those who follow that leader. But we all know that seldom happens. Sadly, many leaders accept that role without the perspectives of leadership that are mandatory to succeed in leading others. Just because an American businessman holds a personal net worth in the billions does not necessarily qualify that person to be a leader. Look at former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Mr. Bloomberg felt his massive success in business proved his leadership skills for politics. The two seldom interface. Quite honestly, Donald Trump is a business success-to-leadership enigma.
Most self-made wealthy people are not good leaders AFTER becoming wealthy. Many become wealthy by being good leaders.
We have a plethora of politicians from whom we today can receive accurate leadership guidance. Unfortunately, most on today’s national political stage are those that teach us how NOT to lead. We could, in many cases, take their leadership decisions and flip them 180 degrees, and they would serve to lead much more effectively.
Leaders, as they age in their positions of leadership over time, become complacent and sometimes even lazy. Their complacency gives them permission to relax and take it easy. After all, they got to where they are by being good leaders. They have this leadership thing figured out. There’s no need to keep pushing, to learn more, to allow themselves to be consumed by serving those they lead, and teaching them the tenets of becoming good leaders. So they simply take it easy.
But you can bet, anytime a crisis or some major issue arises, they will quickly jump to their feet and begin passing out mandates for their followers to enact to fix the mess. But they seldom lead by example. It’s “do as I say,” not “do as I do.”
Their leadership begins to die a slow death. Their followers start to soften and relax and “take it easy,” just like they were taught.
Despite what we have been told, our President is brilliant. He’s intelligent; he has a quick wit. He never meets a stranger. He never turns away from a problem or issue. And he always fights.
But he’s compassionate. Those with whom he interacts to a person speak of how communicative he is, how friendly and courteous he is in one-on-one meetings, and how he effortlessly slips into the process of problem-solving every time one pops up. He defers to those with whom he has surrounded himself. And he allows them to act out their roles regarding tasks at hand. He always holds them accountable, but seldom in an abrasive or crass manner.
He’s a good leader.
Now before my liberal friends throw rocks at their computer screens for what I just stated, let me draw some stark comparisons.
“Other” Leadership Today
In America, we are in a “stage” of possible crisis: COVID-19, or “coronavirus.” It could become a national disaster. It might become another virus with which we find ways to live — like the flu. But no one yet knows the specifics of its ultimate results and, therefore, just how dangerous it may become. But Mr. Trump has been so far doing what he does rather well: Leading.
His detractors come from the woodwork to attack him.
- “He didn’t start soon enough;”
- “He didn’t ask for enough money;”
- “He didn’t rely on experts;”
- “He cannot lead in crisis mode;”
- “No one trusts him,” etc.
Those are words we hear from many of our “leaders” in government today.
How about let’s be specific:
On February 25:
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, speaking from the Senate floor, said the administration’s handling of the virus has been marked by “towering and dangerous incompetence.”
“Here in the United States, the Trump administration has been caught flat-footed. The administration has no plan to deal with the coronavirus, no plan and seemingly no urgency to develop one,” Schumer said.
Schumer’s comments came after the administration provided a closed-door briefing on the virus to all senators on that Tuesday morning.
On February 26:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “What he’s (Trump’s) doing is late, too late, anemic,” she added. “Hopefully, we can make up for the loss of time but we have to have professionals in place, resources that are adequate and not use scare tactics about people coming back to our country.”
The administration’s request proposes spending unused funds earmarked to fight Ebola, with officials seeking $1.25 billion in new money for vaccine development and purchasing protective equipment. Asked for her thoughts on President Donald Trump’s comments about the coronavirus, Pelosi replied tersely: “I don’t think the President knows what he’s talking about. Once again.”
On March 9:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blasted President Donald Trump’s handling of the novel coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. and said she believes the financial market disruption on Monday is directly related to a “lack of confidence” in the White House.
“Well it is very sad, but I believe, what we know about the Dow is that they want certainty, they want to have confidence that there is a plan,” Pelosi told reporters.
“I think that what is happening there is a reflection of lack of confidence, and so we would hope that what is coming out of the White House will be more consistent with what the health advisers are putting forth,” Pelosi said.
“We would hope that rather than name-calling, (Trump) would be again joining with his health care professionals who are advising him and the rest of us in a well-coordinated government agenda,” she said.
On March 9:
Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill said Monday that they could unveil their proposal for a second round of economic relief surrounding the coronavirus outbreak as early as this week. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) are floating a series of legislative reforms designed to combat the spread of the coronavirus and provide economic relief to those most directly affected.
The package comes as an alternative to President Trump’s favored economic proposal, which features an across-the-board payroll tax cut for America’s workers. While the Democrats’ legislation is not yet drafted, Pelosi and Schumer huddled Monday night with the various committee leaders working on it in an effort to tie up loose ends. And Pelosi said the legislation could be drafted — and maybe even receive a vote on the House floor — by the end of the week.
“We are putting it together; it’s not like we just woke up this morning and started thinking about this,” Pelosi said.
“I don’t know that we can be ready this week but we can introduce this week. We can introduce [it] and we may be ready [to vote on it], depending on CBO, depending on [legislative] counsel and how quickly they can [estimate the cost],” she said, referring to the Congressional Budget Office.
On March 10:
In an interview with MSNBC’s host Lawrence O’Donnell, former Vice President and current presidential candidate Joe Biden was focusing on the coronavirus to attack President Trump. Asked if he thinks the stock market rout on Monday, which led to a temporary trading halt, is “a reaction to the markets realizing the president simply does not tell them or the world or this country the truth about this situation,” Biden responded, “I believe that’s the case.”
“Now, it doesn’t mean the market wouldn’t still go down, but it wouldn’t collapse, I don’t think. Now, who can say? But I think there’s no confidence in the president in anything he says or does,” Biden said.
During the interview, Biden said that the incumbent president has “no competence” in handling the coronavirus. “Unfortunately, the president has very—no competence in how to handle this crisis,” Biden said.
Those who stated these things are the Speaker of the House, Minority Leader in the Senate, the most recent “past” Vice President who is currently running to be the President. These are three who are arguably among the top most powerful and influential Americans in the leadership of a country with 330 million citizens.
Does anything you read or heard from them above demonstrate what one would think should be coming from the mouth of an American political leader?
Let’s bullet point what they told “we” Americans who they lead:
- We have a problem: COVID-19 or coronavirus;
- President Trump’s leadership is marked by “towering and dangerous incompetence;”
- Regarding the President: “I don’t think the President knows what he’s talking about. Once again;”
- “We would hope that rather than name-calling, (Trump) would be again joining with his health care professionals who are advising him and the rest of us in a well-coordinated government agenda;”
- …the incumbent president has “no competence” in handling the coronavirus. “Unfortunately, the president has very—no competence in how to handle this crisis.”
Those are the top American leaders after President Trump.
I will not detail the numerous things that under Mr. Trump’s guidance, his “Coronavirus Team” has put in place. His team, under the guidance of Vice President Pence, includes the most revered and respected officials on Earth in the field of infectious diseases, bacterial research, healthcare organization, etc. in executing vast and specific tactics to simultaneously treat those infected with the virus, identify its sources, minimize any community transferring to others, and finding a vaccine — which has been found and already approved for testing! In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control — the agency that the leaders quoted above blasting the President for not listening to — have DAILY on television detailed the President’s support and allowance for the implementation of all the things that team has recommended to take care of the spread of this deadly virus to minimize health costs.
Then regarding the stock market ravaging on Monday of this week: does anyone think the President had anything to do with that? Not any reasonable person!
It happened based on two factors — and neither is named “Donald Trump.” The first is the understandable uncertainty of the economic impact COVID-19 will have on the thousands of companies working daily in the U.S. There are far too many unknowns at this moment to simply forget about the virus and “truck-on!” So what happens in this and all stock market sell-offs are companies sell stocks to put the cash from those sales into their reserves until the virus’s impact becomes known.
The second factor: an oil war between Saudi Arabia and Russia. This war between those two countries is probably the biggest factor. The Saudis want Russia to reduce the amount of oil they produce to join the Saudis in doing the same.
Here’s the REAL summary of today’s story regarding leadership: Pelosi, Schumer, Biden, and Sanders, for that matter, are NOT leaders. How can I say that? Leaders, when facing problems, address the issues head-on. But they never stop there. They immediately identify the details of the problem, call on experts to find or craft a fix, allocate whatever resources are necessary for the fix, then let the experts implement the fix. That’s what good leaders do.
Have you seen any of that from these or other Democrats in leadership? Nope. No Americans have. Have Pelosi, Schumer, Nadler, Biden, or any other Democrat in Washington stepped forward with details of what President Trump should be doing — in exact detail — instead of his current course of action?
But someone is leading the war on COVID-19: President Donald Trump. And by any educated and reasonable measure, He’s winning the war. And all Americans are the beneficiaries.
You know what? Mr. Trump will undoubtedly share — as he in the very beginning tried to do with China but was turned away — all of our successes with every other country.
Why would he do that?
That’s what a Leader does.