“Everything rises and falls on leadership” is one of John Maxwell’s more popular quotes on the topic of leadership. For some, this has become an ironclad principle. To the extent that when a corporation posts significant consecutive quarterly profits the leader gets a big pay day, a book deal, and is paid six figures for speaking engagements. In the same breath, when the company tanks, the leader is not only blamed but their reputation is torpedoed.
Let’s bring this a bit closer to home. If you were to ask those persons who believe that the country is in a good place with a bright future why that is the case, they would not reply with the strong slate of investment taking place or the literacy rate, they would say it is because of the effective leadership navigating these rough times. Ask those who think the country is in a downward spiral with crime and food prices steepling while salaries are stagnating why that is the case, and they too would point the finger at the current leadership. Whether Maxwell’s statement holds true in every situation, people point to leadership as a reason for why things are the way it is. In short, leadership matters.
What is not often quoted is something else Maxwell said, “Understanding leadership and actually leading are two different activities”, with the caveat that it is character that unleashes quality leadership. Since leadership matters, the character of the leader is paramount. But what does that look like? Do we have a clear picture of it?
Before we get into that there is something else to consider.
Imagine a bad leader, someone who lacks courage and concern for others, someone whose sole conviction is to idolize themselves. This leader soon becomes the only example of leadership that others see and therefore emulate. Before long this type of leadership is multiplied and becomes the norm for leadership in the home, in the church, in the marketplace, and in the seat of governance. No longer is this leader a thorn to be dug up and relegated to the ash heap of history, they have now seeded themselves in the consciousness of others. When that happens, it becomes a disaster of unthinkable proportions. A disaster so large and so impenetrable that solving it is now beyond the scope of human wisdom and effort.
Those blessed with clarity, conviction, and candor must now undertake a task of immense proportions, replacing bad, immoral leadership with good leadership. But what does good leadership look like?
Here is a list of what we should be looking for in a leader.
· Good leaders are great servants and are made from good followers.
· Good leaders are humble.
· Good leaders see justice as a moral obligation.
· Good leaders use words to build others up.
· Good leaders do not know everything, so they listen well and take advice.
· Good leaders do not take lightly their responsibility for the lives of others.
· Good leaders delegate and empower others to be leaders.
· Good leaders look for rewards beyond material gains.
· Good leaders let their good works speak for them.
· Good leaders know they will one day have to give account for their leadership.
· Good leaders make wise decisions.
· Good leaders live in a house called integrity.
· Good leaders pay attention to their words and actions.
· Good leaders work at being better at what they do.
· Good leaders do not take bribes.
· Good leaders have strong convictions about maintaining righteousness.
· Good leaders respect others, even when they disagree with them.
· Good leaders build unity among the like-minded.
· Good leaders are fair-minded when it comes to those they lead.
· Good leaders look out for everyone.
· Good leaders accept their mistakes and make restitution when they can.
For a prosperous future, St Vincent and the Grenadines need good leaders across the spectrum of society.