Look for leadership when casting your vote

| Tom Bengtson | October 9, 2012 | 0 Comments

Catholics have an important opportunity to exercise the citizenship component of their faith next month. In addition to voting on two state constitutional amendments, we will be selecting municipal, state and federal political leaders to guide us through the next few years. Let’s take a moment to consider what leadership is.

A broader vision

A leader is someone who takes charge; a leader is someone who brings ideas to the table, articulates them in a compelling fashion and makes things happen.

I know a lot of people who are good at bringing all sides together, facilitating discussion and seeking consensus, but this is not necessarily leadership, in my opinion. While consensus is nice, it often leads to more of the same. Real leaders aren’t afraid to go in directions few have considered. Sometimes leadership means taking the road less traveled.

Real leaders also see beyond the obvious. This election is all about jobs and, of course, we all want economic opportunity in addition to our collective perennial desires for a balanced budget, good schools, safe neighborhoods and fair taxation.

But can’t we do more? A real leader, as I see it, should be able to address our immediate needs and then offer something to the rest of the world — like innovations in energy production or medical care, or breakthroughs in technology, or world-class educational reform.

And, real leaders respect those who hold different opinions. They acknowledge the people on the other side of an issue without putting them down. They understand that most people want the same things — peace and security, economic opportunity, health care, education — but that people of good will may differ on how to achieve these things.

I like a leader who acknowledges a breadth of approaches on a particular challenge but acts with conviction on what he or she believes to be best, keeping the constituency informed along the way. There will be people who won’t like leaders who don’t choose their ideas, but being a good leader is more about being respected than about being liked.

Finally, good leaders make us forget our fears. What is it that keeps people and their societies from advancing? I believe it is the fear of doing something different. A good leader helps people see the advantages of a particular course of action, even if it is something that has never been tried before.

Taking risks

People who don’t want to risk anything are afraid of losing what they have. A good leader alleviates those fears. A good leader affirms people where they are at and shows them the possibilities for a better life. Of course there is risk, but a good leader will make the risk seem like a manageable down payment on a better future.

If you are lucky enough to live in an area where any of the candidates for public office hold the qualities of true leadership, go out and vote for them on Nov. 6.

Contact Tom Bengtson at http://www.TomBengtson.com.

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Category: Faith and the Workplace