Before anyone attacks me for being political in a business blog, please read first before throwing your rocks. As a Professor, a John Maxwell Coach, and in many cases a student of Leadership, I have found this election cycle most intriguing as a study on leadership.
This is a short list of the top characteristics of a leader. I take these from textbooks, lectures, Maxwell’s teachings, and observation. You can debate if another characteristic or trait should be on the list, but for the sole purpose of this election cycle, I am using these.
John Maxwell in his 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership states; “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less”. This influence is what a leader attempts to gain over their team. That team can be a sports team, organization, workforce, union, or in the elections case – you and I – the constituents. The leader wants them to follow him, go towards his vision, help build these new realities that he sees. This leader is not prodding you forward from behind, they lead from the front and you believe in them.
Now I ask, what Influence does any of the candidates in this year’s election have over; you, your daily lives, your life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness? That is what I am looking for. Which of these options do I want to follow?
In years past, the subdivision I walk through every morning with my two Labrador’s, would be chuck full of yard signs for one candidate or the other. I walk close to 4 miles every day, passing nearly 500 homes and lots on the way. As of today, November 1st, 7 days or 168 hours before the next election, not one (1) yard sign can be found for any candidate. Not a single household (assume at least 2 voters in each), not one in 1,000 voters have been inspired to at least put up a sign.
I am very sure that this neighborhood will vote. If I had to put a number on it, my guess is that over 70% of them will cast a ballot this year. Yet none are proud enough of their candidate to announce it. If you do things you aren’t proud of, do you announce them? Or do you just do them and hope nobody notices.
The main question here is; Are we electing a leader? What influence will anyone have on you?
In a textbook I use for my Leadership Classes; “Leadership; Research Findings, Practice, and Skills” – Dubrin 8th Edition, there is a list of personality traits important in Leadership. Here are a few;
- Sense of Humor
Out of these four (4), the only thing I am getting out of this election is a laugh, therefore a sense of humor has been taken into consideration. Both of the major party candidates are exhibiting the lowest level of trustworthiness ever in a general election. Yet, they sit atop of their party tickets asking for your support. Again, if they want to influence you, and they are not humble, trustworthy, or authentic – what are you getting ready to follow?
We elect leaders in quite a few areas of our lives. Every volunteer organization has a leadership team. If you didn’t trust them, would you still volunteer? If they were in it for only themselves, would you show up to help set up for the next fundraiser?
I am sure that if we dig deep into the characteristics, traits, and personalities of leaders, we could find some things that all of our elected officials possess. However, the ones I have listed above are a smell test; who cares if they are energetic, and self-motivated, if we don’t believe anything they say?
Core Foundation of Leadership
If you want to be a leader in your house, volunteer organization, church, career, or anywhere else, keep these key characteristics in mind. Honesty, Integrity, and Humility will take you a long way. You can learn a lot of the other skills, but if your foundation is cracked, there won’t be anything for those skills to rest upon.
There were approximately 3 Million people in the 13 colony’s that made up the original United States. In that 3 Million people, we had the likes of; Washington, Jefferson, Monroe, Hamilton, Madison, Adams, and Franklin (the list could go on for a while). Isn’t it a shame that in a country of 50 States, and nearly 350 Million Americans this is all we have to choose from?