August 2015 Special Section

Everything Rises And Falls On Leadership


Written By: Deborah Bowie

 

Leaders come in many different forms. They have different styles, different strengths, and different approaches. In a moment in time, these special people emerge as much needed voices for the voiceless. 

The rate of change in our community is ubiquitous. It’s a rate that is hard to measure and almost impossible to track because it seems these days to be in a perpetual race with technology. Tweets, posts, online commentary, digital private video chats that disappear in seconds… it’s a dizzying maze in a rapidly changing world of noise where oftentimes we are left to wonder who is standing the black void of space where real leadership is born?

We all know leaders come in many different forms. They have different styles, different strengths, and different approaches. In a moment in time, these special people emerge as much needed voices for the voiceless. They do what is not only right but what is necessary to bring about a tomorrow that includes, not divides. When so much of what we see and read today requires us to find a better way, we need steady leadership to help lead us out of the haze.

I wonder what our world’s best and most beloved leaders would say about the world we live in today. Mahatma Gandhi derived his leadership power from a conscious citizenry. He built a bridge between divergent constituencies and led by serving them. His is a leadership style greatly missing in the overtly partisan public arena today. Nelson Mandela led mostly through his behavior, not his position. One could argue Mandela was at his height of influence when he held no official title as the president of South Africa, but instead inspired millions from behind the walls of an 8’-by-7’ iron bucket cell. More than a quarter of a century of his life spent behind bars, Mandela later said upon his exit, “I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I would still be in prison.” His artful graciousness and humility is but a long and distant memory compared to the brazen and isolating leadership style of today.

And then there’s the seminal leadership of former first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt. She remains the most admired woman in American history – a title she earned as an outspoken teacher and advocate who delivered the nation’s first progressive women’s agenda to the Democratic party that included, among other things, equal pay for women and men, federal aid for maternal and child health and public education. The year was 1924, and 91 years later, every woman has Mrs. Roosevelt to thank.

These were leaders who filled a vacuum in a world when most others shouted into the darkness. They were phenomenal, for sure, but they, like us, were only people. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things. This issue’s theme is devoted to that kind of leadership. Ordinary folks doing extraordinary things right here in our own community. All of them sharing qualities John Maxwell described as the “indispensable qualities of a leader.”

They are people who make an impact.

While the world may indeed be changing, in the end, it is still a world where everything rises and falls on leadership.

“Everything rises and falls on leadership.” —John C. Maxwell

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