Friday, March 23, 2018

Leadership Is Showing "I Am With You"

Whether you are leading a tiny project team, a family, a hospital, a synagogue, a company or a country, you will fail, and fail big-time, if "the people" do not feel and sense and breathe that you are with them always.

On Sunday mornings at 7:30 a.m., on radio station 95.5 in the D.C. area, Pastor Keith Battle has a short radio program called "Weekly Wisdom." And it really is a fountain of wisdom about life, straight from the Bible, delivered by someone who clearly and unashamedly feels for the average human being just trying to struggle through life.

It is not very often that I find myself wanting to write down every single word a speaker says, but Pastor Battle's talk last Sunday was an exception. He spoke of Rahab, and how she was labeled forever for being a prostitute, and how God works through sinners. How we are all sinners, at one point or another. And how the people we callously label as "no good" are the very people He works through to save us.

There are very, very few leaders who have the capacity to make you feel that you are with them. President Trump, in my view, is clearly one. And I recall, having spoken to someone who met her, that Michelle Obama has the same kind of warm, real empathy. This isn't the same thing as charm; it is that feeling that you can sit down and tell the person how you really feel, what your problems are. And they, in their hearts, are with you.

Roseanne Barr has that quality as well. She calls 'em as she sees 'em; she's a tremendous personality, very real, her feelings are larger than life. But what drew me to her on her show, what I saw in her that made me want to watch again and again, was how, beneath her gruff exterior, was overflowing emotion--having a "tough girl" mask made that easier to contain. Charlize Theron, who has made a number of movies I would classify as "real-woman feminist," has that same quality. She is there with you in your ugliness. Like Lena Dunham, she is the kind of friend who holds your hair back when you're sick and throwing up uncontrollably.

What is leadership? It isn't words. Too many people focus on polished vision statements, on having the right thing to say, on buying the type of clothes that help them look the part. Maybe it is some of those things, sure; but it is something else altogether, and very few people have a heart that beats for many people at once, unconditionally, no judgments.

We need more leaders in our world. Maybe they're out there, and it's just too hard for them to step up, what with all the rules, restrictions, and guidelines we have placed on what they can and can't say.

Maybe we should loosen up a bit, and go back to a time when people could just be real.

We need leaders like that. We would all be extremely grateful.

Copyright 2018 by Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal. All opinions are the author's own. This post is hereby released into the public domain. Stock photo. Photo credit: explorerbob via Pixabay (CC0 Creative Commons).