Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Mantle of Leadership

As Peter Parker, aka Spiderman, learned long ago, with great power comes great responsibility. For the past two posts I have been discussing what happens when that power is abused. Today, I’d like to begin looking at the powerful effect strong and morally-centered leadership can have on all of us.

Perhaps the best immediate demonstration of this effect can be seen in the recent announcement of the formation of a group called “The Elders.” Consisting of such moral luminaries as Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter, and Kofi Annan, their envisaged role is to try to solve problems in the world through a combination of diplomacy and moral suasion. I submit to you that the world is hungry for such selfless leadership. As cynical as I am, I couldn’t help but feel a thrill upon hearing of the involvement of my personal hero, Mandela, a man who shows all of us the best that is possible in humanity. Enduring many years of imprisonment to maintain his integrity, when freedom was promised if only he would renounce the goals of the African National Congress, allowing himself to grow old in prison, here is a man who had every right to be bitter and ultimately seek revenge on a government that had oppressed him and his people. Instead, rising to become the President of South Africa, he embraced, not retaliation, but rather forgiveness and reconciliation. Here is a man who was able to put ego aside for the greater good.

In earlier articles I talked about administrators who earned both my respect and my admiration. Their secret was that same ability to put aside ego in order to serve the greater good, education. They were, through their examples, able to motivate the staff in like manner. While the schools were never utopias, they were, for the most part, harmonious, with administration, staff, and students working toward common goals.

I believe that the existence of these two models demonstrates the potential for application in the world of government leadership. But the transition to such a world will not be easy. How do we get there? I’d like to discuss that in upcoming posts.

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