August 27, 2007
When Picking a
President, Remember: Leadership is W.A.R.
Our nation is at war
against Islamic fascists who want to destroy us. Our military is
fighting this war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our intelligence agencies are
fighting this war throughout the world. The Democratic and Republican
parties are at war over political power and control in Congress. The
public has to fight to be heard by its government. Our free market
economy is fighting to stay free.
No matter how you
slice it, there is war all around us. This makes the 2008 presidential
election that much more critical. We need to elect a real leader as
president of the United States.
Following a keynote
speech I had given recently, a young man asked me a simple but
compelling question that forced me to reflect on what it means to be a
real leader. He did not ask who should be the Republican presidential
nominee, or the Democratic nominee, or even who I thought would
ultimately win the presidency in 2008.
This young man’s
question was simply, “Who should be president?”
Instead of first
thinking about political party, current presidential contenders,
political and personal baggage, poll results or even who has the most
money in their campaign war chest, this question caused me to think
about the three critical leadership abilities a real leader must
possess, which I had described in a speech earlier that day. Namely,
Leadership is W.A.R.
Real leaders “Work
on the right problems, Ask the right questions, and Remove barriers to
self-motivation.” Although I had practiced, spoken and written on these
principles of leadership for the past 40 years, I had been reminded that
most people do not share a common understanding of what to look for in a
great leader for the greatest country in the world.
As a result, people
vote for a candidate based on a single issue, party affiliation or the
person who sounds, looks and acts most presidential. We usually elect
the candidate who can best manage the politics of politics, the politics
of the primary process and the politics of media perception. If we get a
real leader it’s a bonus.
campaign staffers know this, which is why they advise their candidate
bosses to stay away from the big problems and bold solutions unless
pushed into a corner. And even then, they are advised to be as
non-committal as possible so as not to be held accountable later. For
instance, saying that we need to “reform the tax code” is a long way
from committing to lead the effort to “replace the tax code” with a
The public is
starved for leaders who will inspire us with real solutions instead of
boring us with more political commentary. Non-commitment, avoiding the
big problems, offering no bold solutions, and the usual political
rhetoric are all barriers to a self-motivated and supportive public.
Maybe the person who
should be president is already a declared candidate, but they have not
chosen to come out of their protective campaign shell. Maybe the person
who should be president is not even in the race yet. And worse, maybe
the person who should be our next president is not even on the political
The next president
should know that Leadership is W.A.R.
© 2007 North Star Writers
Group. May not be republished without permission.
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