I. Sometimes the easiest way to define great leadership is through example or metaphor. It's a complex and illusive topic at times - often described in the "I know it when I see it" type of format. There are many significant resources that have been developed over time breaking down some of the greatest leaders to have ever walked the earth. This post will hardly delve into that - nor does it need to. Honestly, when it comes to defining what is lacking in our national leaders today, the answer is quite simple.
II. When he entered through the front doors he was much smaller than I had anticipated. A short and unassuming man, his stature hardly matched the mental picture I had created for him. We where meeting at a Red Robin, which was his suggestion. Few places could have been more humbly divergent from what seemed to be proper for this occasion. My internal dialogue was passionate, "This seems out of place, shouldn't we be eating steak at the Paxton?" As we sat down I was fully prepared to sit and listen. I was ready to soak in the knowledge. Immediately he asked me a question. Then another, which was followed by a few more. I couldn't get one of my own in, he just kept asking me question after question. "Why is he so interested in my life", I kept thinking, "doesn't he know who he is"? I got in one or two of my own at the end. His answers didn't disappoint. The conversation ended with his intriguing proposal, "if there is anything I can do for you, please let me know." My response was, "sounds great". My internal response again was, "doesn't he know who he is"?
III. I define leadership as influencing people to take action. The greatest leaders understand that their influence is everything. They understand the currency of relationships. They understand the power of empowerment. They fully realize that things only get done when they are able to influence others. Even terrible men like Adolf Hitler managed significant influence. Leaders will never accomplish anything truly great through coercion, grandstanding, arguing, or even compromise. Truly great things happen because of influence. With an 11% approval rating that is the lowest since 1974, I have to wonder about the influence ability of our national leaders? How are a group of men and women that 89% of us don't support going to accomplish anything of substance?
What would the conversation be like if you sat down with your Senator at a Red Robin? I imagine right now, mine would do a whole lot of talking.