Leadership from the Inside Out

“People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they’ll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They’re so thirsty for it they’ll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there’s no water, they’ll drink the sand.” ~ Lewis Rothschild (The American President)

This is a quote I have been fascinated with ever since the first time I saw The American President.  At first, I was struck by how absolutely on-point it seemed.  Looking back though, I am concerned about its accuracy.  We look around at organizations and government and regularly see failings.  All too often I have heard people talking about how the ‘leadership’ did this or that wrong and that is why the organization went down or the government is not meeting our expectations.  My fear is that we are misplacing the blame and responsibility for this leadership solely on those people who are in postions of authority simply because they were appointed or elected to them.  If we want real change, if we do not like the way things are going, is it not our own responsible to each individually step up and lead as well?  It is not enough to stand on the sidelines and state that you see something is wrong.  You must be willing to get in the game and do something to make it right.  My experience shows me that if what you are promoting is the desire of the group, your doing so typically drives a broader sea change and others will join as well.  It becomes centralized leadership in which everyone feels a greater sense of ownership and accountability.  Leadership is not an easy task, and it can be very difficult, but if the goal is truly to improve the way our organizations and society are run, each of us has an obligation to play a part…to lead…through this process.

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