Vision of Leadership is Changing Dramatically!
our insights of who a leader is and how a leader acts transform
us and our experiences, we are left standing with one foot in our
past perceptions and habits and the other in our perspicacity and
ideals. Particularly, as Americans focus on choosing their next
leader, balancing between the past and the future is even more challenging.
An oxymoron is defined as a contradiction; one concept or idea is
the opposite of another. An oxymoron supports either/or thinking.
Either the concept of statesman is the ideal to pursue, thus making
the politician and politics something to avoid, or if unavoidable,
then certainly something less than the best. Whatever the view,
quantifying measurement is involved. This way of thinking tends
to be adversarial in nature and to create antagonistic behaviors.
paradox is defined as a concept or idea that may seem initially
incredible; yet upon investigation, often proves well-founded or
true. A paradox can support what I refer to as
inclusive thinking. In describing
the vision of leadership, the case is put forth that both concepts
- statesperson and politician - hold equal value. An individual
can be both. Being a politician does not automatically mean engaging
in manipulative or scheming behavior. Being a statesperson does
not inherently mean being a saint. Qualifying measurement is involved
in inclusivity. This way of thinking tends to be conciliatory in
nature and to create collaborative, community-building behaviors.
Either/or thinking is valuable. We all must choose, for example,
between eating one thing or another, wearing this or that, going
here or there. Our doings are a result of our choosings. What is
essential to remember if we are to fulfill our vision of leadership,
to move both feet into the future and retain our balance, is that
there is an over-arching perception that includes oxymorons, contradictions.
In a peaceful world community, the ideal of there being a right
way that works for all, of inclusivity,
supplants "our way is right policy" doing.
humans have a conscience; yet, we know that all humans use, abuse
and misuse this gift in extraordinarily diverse ways. In a democratic
society, we presume a theoretical freedom - the capacity for and
acceptance of individual opinions and decisions and the inherent
right of equality. In
realizing this freedom, tension between the theory,
the concept, the vision and the reality of life arises. Stress and
strain are challenges inherent in our attempts to reconcile these
differences, these contradictions, which at times are small and
at other times enormous.
Politics is the interplay of these competing interests. Aristotle
believed that the diversity of ideas inherent in a corporate body
or a community is a constructive force in the creation of a social
order, of a governing system. Nothing has changed about that precept;
if anything, due to the theories of quantum physics, we are deepening
our understanding regarding the essential nature of, and balance
between, differentiation and communion. Politics is a means to resolve
the tension between the present and the future. Politics, the implementation
of individual motives, is intrinsic in all human systems; in this
regard, all humans are politicians.
Individual interests, conflict and power are not in themselves either
good or bad; they are universal characteristics of being alive,
of being members of a community. The challenge, the gap, lies not
in the what, but in the how. The oxymoron, the contradiction between
the image of a statesperson and the politician lies in the choices
of being, the decisions to act in one way or the other; no one makes
someone else choose to scheme and maneuver as a means to an end.
Our ethics, or the principles of human duty, the guiding rules of
conscience and conduct, underlie the choices that each of us humans,
us statespersons/politicians, makes.
Questions automatically arise when viewing the oxymoron as a gift,
rather than a curse. There are penultimate questions: The questions
are about honor; the questions are about discerning the honorable
way to create order out of diversity; the questions are about the
degree of commitment to the survival of the whole and the degree
of acceptance of reciprocal dependence; the questions are about
competition and cooperation; the questions are about reconciling
differences, utilizing conflict as a tool rather than a weapon,
growing power into empowerment.
questions, ultimately, are about leadership in a democracy:
is your/our vision? What are the values that will create that vision?
What are the characteristics that will bring that vision into action?
Through these answers, we bring ourselves into balance and, more
importantly, maintain our balance as we embrace the shift that develops
the leaders of tomorrow.
Rose Chabau, Ph.D.
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