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Robin Smith / Jul. 27, 2020

Traits of Leaders

What a contrast when you consider leadership against the rabble rousers in urban America.

Americans should be concerned that a growing number of young adults have no understanding of the concept of authentic leadership. As legendary Green Bay Packers Coach Vince Lombardi used to say, “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.” Too many young people, products of public school indoctrination, don’t get it.

“Protests” across our nation have left major cities in abject ruin. These are led by young activists with escalating demands that began as a cry that “Black Lives Matter,” yet it moved to calls for law enforcement to be defunded by local governments. Then the demands escalated to abolish prisons, as rioters created zones of occupation complete with filth, trash and violence that are destroying businesses. Marxist Democrats in helmets, with guns, frozen water bottles, bricks, M-80 explosives, and rocks have set fire to federal and private property.

Contrast this undisciplined, unbridled anger from people Senator Tom Cotton has accurately dubbed emotionally incontinent “Woke Children” with the traits of leadership employed by so many who have accomplished feats of notoriety, heroism, personal, and business success.

In 2019, it’s estimated that 1,000 books were published daily, excluding self-publishing, and that top sellers annually involve the topic of leadership. Among the books Inc.com listed as the 10 books that will change your life in one long weekend were eight books that focused on being successful through work. Made in America by Sam Walton emphasizes humility, respect, leading a team, and learning from others. Another recommended title is Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins, whose janitor-to-mega-motivation speaker story challenges readers to excel in mind, body, and spirit by taking personal responsibility. Then there’s Act Like A Success, Think Like A Success by Steve Harvey, which tells of the challenges to achieve his dreams through perseverance, hard work, and the discipline of gratitude. Most lists of books on success and leadership include one on Warren Buffett, and Tap Dancing to Work was more about how Buffett lives modestly, values family, stresses integrity in business and life, and rejects envy of those who have succeeded. Instead, Buffett says, we should learn from their successes.

Are we seeing our young adults displaying humility, respect, excellence in mind, body, or spirit? Are students today taught to value the discipline of gratitude and living within their means? Is the virtue of integrity valued and are successful individuals honored for achievement? Is envy rejected?

These questions are shamefully rhetorical. The largest age group of those in today’s protest movement is under 35 years of age. Envy is the currency of the Marxist Democrats’ economy, with entitlement as the mindset instead of perseverance. Personal responsibility is never tethered to the rights being demanded by these adolescents.

For those who embrace educational excellence and critical thinking and pursue the traits and virtues of a leader, an amazing opportunity awaits. As Forbes observed in a March 2017 piece listing the 11 Powerful Traits of Successful Leaders, “Successful leaders are the power and intellect behind their organizations.” These organizations can be large or small, corporate or volunteer. The value of the capacity to lead transcends occupation, vocation, and any demographic.

So, what are keys of leadership?

Self-management, strategic action, effective communication, personal accountability and responsibility, setting clear goals with persistence to achieve them, setting a vision for one’s future, managing complexity for the purpose of solving problems, fostering creativity and innovation, building teams and fostering cohesiveness, creating lasting relationships through gratitude and the applause of others, and, finally, learning agility that “hinges on developing critical thinking skills, being accepting of uncertainty, having social and emotional intelligence and always having the desire and determination to push forward.”

Every trait there is fundamentally American.

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