We have an abundance of books, essays, blog posts and millions of daily quotes that can guide us to be a good leader. Through these works, we have typified a good leader in terms of characteristics, qualities, and skills. To become a good leader, you have to be honest, confident, committed, and just. You have to be able to delegate, to communicate efficiently, to mentor and motivate, and to inspire and challenge. The list can go on. I myself have read and capitalized on these literatures in the pursuit of being a good leader!
However, recent personal and world events made me reflect whether or not it is really possible to be a good leader, or if it is worth pursuing to be a good leader. Back home, our president is thrown endless criticisms, despite probably being the only president in the past 25 years who has not been involved with fraud and corruption, and having booked actual results in terms of advancing our economy. A friend I admire so dearly gave up on pursuing a well-developed blueprint on organizational change after discovering her colleagues grouping against her, labeling her with incomprehensible stories of crab mentality. It seems that we have inculcated among us that a good leader needs to be strong and not weak, to make decisions that are right without room for mistakes, to cast all our discomforts and be our ultimate savior, to serve nothing but our wishes, and to be without imperfections. Interestingly, when things go wrong we transfer liabilities to our leaders so that we have someone to blame. It feels good because it eliminates our guilt. We have positioned ourselves as merely followers, forgetting that we are leaders too! We have tormented our leaders with our unending protests without critical assessments or relevant actions. We have forgotten that we are leaders ourselves, that we also have to marry responsibility with accountability, and that we have to be willing to change if we call for change.
Is it possible to determine whether or not our leader is good? Whether or not we are a good leader? Our answers will be strictly individual and subjective. But I am certain that we are all leaders. From the moment we took the responsibility of taking care of our younger siblings, helping them with their homework or simply explaining to them the moral lessons behind their favorite toy story, when we joined dad to clean the car and committed to it, when we volunteered to sell girl scout cookies and raised funds for our community project, when we decided which university we would go to and sold the idea to our parents, when we defended the findings for our thesis and shared it for the benefit of the many, when we started to pay for our bills without having to phone our parents or our elder siblings, when we chose friends we most enjoy the company with not to gossip but discuss and reflect on all things possible, the difference between democrats and republicans or whether or not orange tastes better than apple just like Alan and Denny in Boston Legal, when we pushed for a valuable change at work and defended our positions despite of criticisms, when we chose our battles, when we did the things we believed were right for fairness and not merely for the sake of neutrality. We exercise leadership in our every day life.
We do not find our passion, we build it. We aim to pursue meaningful life more than just the simplicity of personal happiness. We are prepared to be misunderstood when driving innovation and change.
And leaders, despite a long day of difficult decisions and challenges don’t forget to a) dress up with style (translation: glamour under pressure) and b) treat yourself with a good lunch (translation: do not forget to eat just because of too much work!)! I did both today, and I will keep doing the same every day!
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