My idea of a good leader is someone who is caring, nurturing, and an excellent listener. They also want and encourage people to be their own, unique best selves. This leader knows that anyone imitating another signifies weakness of character and a troubled person.
All good leaders are role models to those around them, influencing the behavior of others, including their inner circle. Not because they choose to be but because they are authentic in all aspects.
Whether front and center or working behind the scenes, an outstanding leader’s influence is everywhere. Water runs downhill, and a leader’s influence manifests within their inner circle for good or bad. And through them, it ripples throughout any organization, large or small.
Wise leaders know their power, even if they believe it is hidden or invisible. Their encouraging or destructive words and behaviors exert a powerful force on every follower.
Organizations are like families, where behaviors are well known by those within them. Faking authenticity is useless. On the other hand, everyone will know if a leader is open, vulnerable, and honest. And, there is a strong likelihood they will want this for others. There is no higher calling for a leader than setting a positive example through their words and behavior while assisting others to become their own true selves.
If I lead, I teach—My influence telling too—I, a role model.
Watching the celebration of Queen Elizabeth’s life sent me a clear message that she was what I believe leaders need to be. She cared for her people, listened to them, and did what she could for them. I believe the Queen was a model leader and true to herself, another reason she was loved and honored by so many.
We can—and do—overstate many things, but leadership and the leader’s impact on individuals and nations are impossible to diminish. It is why I repeatedly write that small and large groups cannot exist without leadership, whether it be good or bad.
Hitler and his cohorts (his inner Circle) were as evil as leaders can be. Yet, hypnotized by his personal magnetism and fiery rhetoric, the great majority of German citizens loved him. When Hitler blamed the Jews and other minorities for the demise of what was a mighty Germany at one time, they voluntarily participated in the murder of their own countrymen. What Hitler wrought cost the world many millions of lives. This was an entirely evil form of leadership, yet others followed willingly. Whether a leader is ethical, moral, or pure evil DOES NOT matter. Hitler was ruthless, but he was still supported. Why? I suggest that those that follow and support an immoral leader do so because they feel they have NO VOICE. They see themselves as pawns—helpless to do anything to change their condition and desperate for solutions. Though his solutions were heinous and his message was horrific, Hitler was a strong leader who made most Germans feel he spoke for them. Clearly, he was acutely aware of a leader’s ability to influence behavior and exploited it at every opportunity.
On the other hand, many leaders are entirely unaware of their power to influence behavior. While working with professionals and entrepreneurs to help with their staff issues, I often discovered that this was the problem with the leader. They simply didn’t realize how their power influenced those who followed them. My challenge became how to make leaders aware of this and empower staff so they could communicate (dialogue) with their leader person to person. It took willing leaders and staff to find the courage to make positive change. And they did.
Steve Zuckerman is putting his knowledge to work, preparing my next book for release to the public. Steve is doing a superb job creating and overseeing our blog and, now, the book. Nothing but the professional best at work on our behalf!
We all intend and hope that the book proves helpful to leaders, parents, teachers, and any with responsibilities to and with others. I know my intentions when I write a paper today are no different than what they were when I worked with children, staff, entrepreneurs, and professionals. I always want to listen, give feedback, render clarity, and suggest resolutions. Still, papers cannot listen, confirm and respond, but as a mentor, I can and must do my best to teach, clarify and guide.
There’s no need to write that our world is in a bad state, but a book that seeks to better human relationships is a positive contribution to the caring and nurturing of people and our world.
With technology and a changing environment, our world appears to grow smaller even as our population increases. Ironically, our planet is less able to care for those who already inhabit it. We are aware of our current problems: wars, dictatorships, a disintegrating environment, inflation, pandemics, and more. There is no worse time in human history to be deaf, dumb, and blind to the unpredictable challenges ahead.
Our earth in trouble—What can we do to avoid—Not our head in sand.
Lenette and I appear to be lucky ones, or how else to explain our physical, mental and emotional state? Living in a senior environment and witnessing a population of older people is a whole new experience for us. It is coming on to 3 years that we have lived here, so seeing the changes in individuals has become more apparent.
We see our friends and acquaintances walking upright one day and using a walker the next. We see them using aids such as canes and wheelchairs. We see and hear of one or two being taken by 911 to the hospital, living on oxygen, or simply looking older than the day before—or never seeing them again. It is an unavoidable day-to-day reality in our senior environment. And, if wise, it is “day-to-day.”
It will come to us in time. And when is that time? We do not know or worry about it and do not give in or up to what we realize is inevitable. We will get there soon enough, which does not overly concern us or interfere with our continuing to live as best we can. So, we read, write, exercise, enjoy a good meal with good friends, and let each day unfold.
Another observation about us is that we live in the present. The past exists as a file of memories to visit now and then, but we do not live in the past or the future. More and more, it is just day to day. But there are special times too, and that is when we have visitors from our past. It is marvelous to be with people we consider family, and how wonderful we have so many!
Another remarkable occurrence is what we learn about our past from those we shared it with. In fact, we hear and learn of events we were part of but were so involved with what was going on that we had no idea what was unfolding at that time. Apparently, just doing our thing!
I believe leadership may be one of the most important conditions of humans if we function as groups, whether in large societies or as small a unit as two people. Leadership exists everywhere, but its forms are many.
Some examples include: Monarchies, where the leadership is in the hands of a King and Queen. Dictatorships, where the power exists in the voice of one or a few. Oligarchies, where the power is held by one or a family, and of course, Democracy, where each person has a voice. As we know, in American Democracy, the majority has the strongest voice as a voting block. Yet, the minority still has a voice—but a lesser one.
In contrast, Anarchy is where the power is held by everyone—Hierarchy does not exist. Parliamentary is where there is usually a King and Queen, although power is held by individuals as representatives of the people who vote them into office. There is also a form of government ruled by direct force or power, usually by the group with the most guns. Not finally, but finally for the purpose of this essay, I’ll also include those leaders that run small and large corporations and businesses with many or few employees. We label them “entrepreneurs.”
The point I’ll emphasize is that leadership and the power that comes with it exists everywhere people live in groups, beginning with as few as two living together. There is always one with some degree of power, which may be transferable from one to the other depending on the roles they pay at any given time.Finally, if power is an aphrodisiac, and it might be for a few, I can understand their need for power. Personally, I do not accept this, but each to their own belief system. In any case, I have disdain and no respect for those leaders that use their power to use and abuse anyone. Sadly, ignorance prevails among too many leaders.
I love philosophy. And much of psychology also has appropriately been influenced by all 3 of the philosophers in the title. But I have also had wonderful experiences and lessons through my work with children, young staff, and later with the entrepreneurs and professionals I worked with for 35 years. In other words, experience is the best teacher I have had.
Briefly, Socrates believed in the individual, that true power exists in people being themselves. It is why his dialogues with his students are so meaningful. He pushed each to find and be open with their feelings and thoughts. Aristotle believed in democracy as the best form of governing. Conversely, Plato believed that a democracy would lead to weak leaders, creating opportunities for a strong leader (or dictator) to take over governing.
Of the three, I would lean towards Socrates as the example I am most for and, I believe, how I lived my life. I was there for the people who worked for me but had no thought whatsoever that they should be like me. What I wanted from them all, and later taught leaders, was that individuals should be as much themselves as possible. That it is the job of the leader to help bring this about as an example and mentor. A true leader cannot say and do otherwise.
The study of power and leadership is a must that nations, corporations, professionals, classroom teachers, and parents, most of all, need to bring to their inner circles and kitchen table. This is cut in marble. A leader cannot be less than what they hope for from others. This is easy to write and talk about but very difficult to do and be. It is why I suggest dialogue and study on the subject—and then “BEING.”
Power in our hands—Use it as love and learning—We all benefit.
The changing of the guard looks so easy and classy when the military does it. The ritual, at least in certain venues, is almost a perfect replacement of one person for another. But that’s tradition, and the aging process has nothing to do with tradition. It is about physical, mental, and emotional changes and nothing, as I see it, to cheer about.
I speak only for myself; others may view their aging process as something they have earned. A just reward for having lived a productive life. And there are others who cry and long for what is no more and, worse, what can never be again. Not enough? There are those that fear, absolutely fear death and nothingness. I fear none of this any more than not fearing the Typhoon and the giant waves on our way to Okinawa. Events dictate not us humans. I’ve always dealt with the events. It’s why I like the word “serendipity.”
Here are a few words for having good communication and even dialogue with an aging person important to you. Be as present with them as possible. Listen, I mean seriously listen, and don’t take their words as if coming from a senile mind. Tell them what you hear being said and think about what you understand. Don’t play and try to make them feel good, but be with them, where they are at, and at all costs, be who you really are and feel. When you are given the time and space to respond, be candid. They will see through any “sugar coating.”
When I visited my father after his stroke, he motioned with his hand cutting across his throat. He was ready to die, and I made sure he saw my eyes when I approved his plea. He died soon after he was given my support. Isn’t that what love means? Honest support for those we love?