Pick up the daily newspaper in any city worldwide and the top stories have one common denominator. ‘Crisis’ rules the day. “The world is going crazy” has become a frequent post on Facebook.
We don’t just have a “problem” in our world today; a situation we regard as unwelcome that needs to be dealt with and overcome (the dictionary definition of ‘problem’).
We’ve gone beyond ‘problem’. Our world is in crisis mode. And there’s not just one crisis, but many.
A crisis is a time of intense difficulty, trouble and danger; it is also a time when difficult and important decisions must be made. A crisis demands out-of-the-box thinking and freedom from political correctness. When danger lurks, you don’t schedule committee meetings; you take action to protect yourself, your family and your nation from the threatening danger.
ISIS isn't the crisis; leadership is. The presence of a crisis brings with it the unique opportunity to reveal genuine leaders, men and women with a healthy dose of old-fashioned courage and gut-level honesty and a generous amount of humility. Titles are secondary; degrees often irrelevant. In fact, the man or woman who by word and example makes the important difference is more of a ‘leader’ in crisis than THE leader.
Courage – the dictionary defines it as the ability to do something that frightens you; showing strength in times of grief and pain.
Courage means that you never shy away from the truth; that your word is your bond and that you embrace responsibility. You understand what needs to be done and though there are risks, though you may be criticized or worse, you take your stand with your head erect and your eyes fixed on the goal. Courage means you weigh the options and you make the critical decisions, often painfully, sometimes agonizingly, but you do it because it’s the right thing to do.
Honesty – the quality of being straightforward and truthful; accepting responsibility for oneself and one’s decisions. A leader’s honesty must be above reproach. An honest leader expects more of himself than of his subordinates, knowing that as a leader, he is required to set an example of integrity. Any breach of honesty engender a lack of trust and respect which in turn contributes to the problem or crisis at hand, rather than assisting in its resolution.
Humility – his or her attitude must be that of a servant, first; a figurehead second. The leader’s duty is to serve the people who look to him for guidance; to have their best interests at heart and to listen to their concerns. This kind of leader knows well that he does not have all the answers and that he needs the advice of wise counselors.
His humility acknowledges that need.
His honesty embraces their recommendations.
His courage formulates a decision for which he takes full responsibility.
I propose that there is a famine today; not of food, but of strong, courageous and humble leaders. I speak not of impressive bodies in equally impressive buildings that grace the national capitols of the world. To be sure, those that hold such office do have the responsibility to live up to these ethical principles and then some.
ISIS is not THE crisis. Leadership is. The leadership that works from the ground up.
ISIS, to be sure, is outrageously dangerous, brutal in its tactics and a force for unmitigated evil. Other terrorist movements follow the same pattern and threaten everything that freedom loving, western democracies hold dear.
But what about you? And what about me? Everyone has a leadership role to some degree. We are all examples to those around us whether we are conscious of it or not. No one lives in a vacuum. What we do on a daily basis, how we behave, how we interact with others is a living, breathing ‘blog post’ read by our communities.
Each of us has the opportunity in an age of multiple international crises to make a difference where we are, to be the kind of leader we hope to see in our nations and governments.
Courage – honesty – humility. What can you do in your community to demonstrate these leader qualities?
How about a groundswell of courage, honesty and humility from the grassroots? Let's reverse the famine.