Paul Butler | Principled leadership

Paul Butler
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In the past few weeks we’ve all had the opportunity to watch the national convention for each of the two major political parties here in the United States — firstly the Democratic National Convention, followed by the Republican National Convention.

The purpose of this week’s article is not to summarize the two conventions and it most certainly wouldn’t be appropriate in a business column for me to share my political views. What I think is relevant is to discuss the striking similarities between the kind of leader we all want to see in the White House and the kind of leader we all want to see in our workplace.

Why can I use the predeterminer pronoun “all”? Well, good leadership is a principle. What do we mean by principle? It applies to all. Principles are universal — they’re not just localized. Principles are timeless, not temporal. Principles are objective, not subjective. Principles exist with, or without our permission — they’re external to us. Principles just are.

Pragmatically speaking, we all know what good leadership is. If we interviewed a sample of people from different parts of the world; of different ages; of different races; of different genders and of different belief systems, I’ll guarantee there would be consensus on what is defined as good leadership principles.

It’s only when we overlay our political biases that the lake of leadership gets murky. Take away the interest groups and personal agendas and good leadership becomes crystal clear.

Let’s see if we can agree between us the type of person who would make a great leader for our country at a time when we so desperately need good leadership. Let’s see if we can agree between us that these same attributes make for good leadership in our workplaces. I’d even go so far as to claim these principles make for good leadership at the state, county and city level. I even believe many a broken home could have been a beautiful home if these attributes were actively demonstrated.

We want a leader to be faithful — faithful to our country, our workplace, our community, our marriage and our home. If they profess with their mouth to be a person of faith, may their actions follow their words. There’s nothing worse than an unfaithful leader.

We want a leader to be gentle, yet strong — to have enough empathy to do the right thing even when it’s tough to do so.

We want a leader to look for the goodness in all situations and in all people. Yes, sometimes they will need to fight the good fight but fighting should be their last resort. We want a leader to be patient and peaceful — to listen twice as much as they speak and to seek resolution rather than stir societal, political or workplace revolution.

They must exhibit self-control. Due to their position, leaders have formal, explicit authority but they must always remember within a democracy, be it nationally or organizationally, it’s the people who permitted and passed the power. Just as Winston Churchill famously once said, “The price of greatness is responsibility.” History is shattered with examples of leaders who lost their self-control.

Leaders must love what they do and who they serve. You and I can tell when a leader is out for their own self-interest and the only love they possess is their love for themselves.

Great leaders are also positive, solution-minded individuals who exhibit joy in the work they do — their joy is not circumstantial because it comes from deep within. My observation has been that great leaders also show kindness and compassion even in times of conflict and discordancy.

I believe if we voted, selected, nominated and aspired to these nine leadership principles our everyday lives would look a lot different — because against these, there is no law.

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