These are some of the things that true leaders – good leaders – do and don’t do.
- They listen to the views of others. They don’t necessarily agree, but they genuinely listen and seek to understand how others think.
- They represent all of the people in their area – not just their families and buddies, not just the people who think like them. (As the Bible says, “For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?”)
- They don’t use their office to gain financially or to benefit their own personal interests.
- They are brave enough to openly admit it when they make a mistake, knowing that it’s a sign of maturity and honesty to do so.
- They temper their anger instead of indulging it.
- They think before they speak, rather than rambling about whatever stream of consciousness might enter their minds.
- They praise others in public and criticize them in private rather than openly shouting at employees and people with whom they disagree. They don’t give people derogatory nicknames – that’s something that shouldn’t last beyond fourth grade.
- They know that there are times when they will have to do and say things that are difficult for people to accept, and they recognize their words and actions won’t always be greeted with hurrahs from their cronies – but they try to do what is right and good for the long-term future of the people.
- They think beyond themselves and their personal needs. They have empathy for others.
We had leaders like that many years ago – for example, Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. They’re no longer remembered for their political parties but for the steadfastness, fortitude and bravery they showed during a terrible time.
We have some very good leaders even now – those out working on the front lines to battle the coronavirus and get supplies to their people, kneeling in support of those seeking racial justice, trying to spread calm on roiling waters. And then there are the others, about whom we can only say, Thank heaven we didn’t have anyone like this in charge during World War II, or our side would have lost.
Let’s choose our leaders wisely in the future, whether at the local, state, or national levels.