I was asked to write something on the election and its effects on the County. It is no surprise to anyone that I am a Democrat. There were some disappointments on Nov. 8 and yes, some of us are experiencing what I can only describe as grieving.
However, we don’t have much time for grieving. In fact, my time of grieving is over. I would also argue that those who supported the recently elected Republicans do not have much time to gloat. We all have to put on our big boy/girl pants, get to work, and support those that were chosen to lead, both Democrats’ and Republicans’.
A number of years ago I taught a summer high school class on leadership. The first question I asked was to name someone who they considered a leader. The number one answer was a sports star, number two was a parent, and number three was a teacher. When asked why they thought they were leaders, the overall consensus was that these people were better than their peers. But when asked why, the students had to delve a little deeper. Their conclusion – these people were not just better than their peers but they were able to get the best out of those they were working with. The sports star got the best out of his team; the parent got the best out of her children; the teacher got the best out of his students. And overwhelmingly, they felt that leaders put others ahead of themselves.
There is much literature on leadership but there are some common traits that enable people to be good leaders. I took out my old notes from the Junior Achievement class curriculum to share with you the top five characteristics of leadership.
Number one: Integrity – that “inner being” quality to be good and do well. Leaders have to draw upon fundamental beliefs and character to be able to act according to personal moral values consistently.
Number two: Vision – imagination and foresight. Taking a long-range view, leaders have a personal dream and can visualize what the organization can accomplish in a month or in 10 years.
Number three: Commitment – the drive to get it done. Leaders derive fundamental personal motivation, which others can sense and emulate, from personal commitment to excellence and the goals of their groups.
Number four: Desire to serve – it’s all about others, not self. Leaders have to be more dedicated to their organization than themselves and want to serve for the needs of others.
And lastly and probably the most challenging for some;
Number five: Willingness to take risks and embrace change – going out on a limb, sometimes alone. Leaders have to take chances to realize their visions for advancing the goals of their organizations.
Notice I didn’t say that leadership is rank, privileges, titles or money. Nor is it party politics. It is responsibility. I was chosen by the voters to continue to serve as their Councilmember. We have a new County Executive and a bi-partisan County Council. I will continue to work for equality, the environment, a thriving economy, a growing middle class and the disenfranchised and for our County. Our County has the opportunity to continue to be the best in the South Sound. We need to think of the County as a whole and not segmented into our districts. But it is up to all of us in elective office to move us forward. As we start, I have a wish and maybe a little bit of a prayer; and that is to be able to work together based on our shared values and not party labels. We owe you the type of leadership that incorporates all of the above qualities, that are forward thinking and that have vison for the future. The County needs leaders who see the promise of the future. And we must work together to take us there!