RSS 4 Leadership Lessons for Politicians

You might say I have an obsession with presidential politics. I enjoy listening to the rhetoric of all political parties – not just the two major ones. I watch the conventions and ensuing debates with the same passion and fervor I reserve for fantasy football. I even listen to the talking heads on FOX and MSNBC who are anything but unbiased. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in both political science and economics, this season of presidential politics fascinates me!

Sadly, I think both major political parties in the United States are devoid of leadership. That’s not to say that the men who are running for President are lacking – I can’t judge them on that. But, I am calling into question the leadership skills of both parties because it is failing their respective candidates. The following are four prime examples of this failure of leadership, and how I believe a great leader would behave differently.

1. Candidates appear to either not know the truth or refuse to tell the truth. How many times do we need to hear from “fact-checkers” after a candidate speaks who confirm that many of the things mentioned were incorrect?  The best leaders tell the truth, no matter how good or how bad the facts are. — A great leader knows that truth builds trust and trust builds loyalty.

2. Candidates haven’t – or can’t seem to – articulate a vision of prosperity for all. The political parties are very polarizing these days. The fact of the matter is that half of us want to pay fewer taxes and provide fewer government services, while the other half of us are willing to pay more taxes so that government ensures our health and safety. A great leader seeks to collaborate on ways to appeal to the broadest base.

3. We are seeing a deterioration of the middle class. Let’s face it: as a society we will only be as well off as the majority of our population. And the majority of our population is traditionally in the middle class, but that group is steadily disappearing into the two extremes. A great leader knows when to make sacrifices for the greater good.

4. Significantly greater financial resources are being used to get candidates elected. When the Supreme Court decided in favor of Citizens United, it opened the door for corporations to invest unlimited resources into political campaigns. I can’t say if it is for better or worse yet, but I do know that political operatives are spending more money than ever before. We have to wonder what cost society must pay in order to get someone elected, and whether or not those resources could be utilized more wisely. A great leader is an excellent steward of financial resources, and understands that decisions made to invest resources have ethical consequences.

Whether you agree with my assessment or not, the important point is that I don’t see it as a failure of the individuals who seek public office, but rather the polarizing leadership of the parties themselves.

How about you – are you following along with the presidential election coverage? Will you be watching the upcoming debates? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

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2 Responses to “4 Leadership Lessons for Politicians”

  1. Kaci says:

    I’m not as up on the presidential election as I probably should be, but I do have to say that I agree with you. I especially agree with your first point about leaders needing to be truthful, because telling the truth builds trust. The candidate for the party that I would usually vote for does not seem transparent, real or trustworthy to me. I don’t think that the opposing party’s candidate is 100% or even 70% trustworthy either, but I would have to say that he seems to be more truthful and real. I have to say that because of this simple factor of trust I am swayed this election to vote for a party that I wouldn’t normally vote for.

  2. Grant says:

    I agree with you Mitch in that over the past several years the polarizing effect of our political system’s two major parties has become destructive. On the broad political spectrum, Democrats and Republicans are very close in ideals. However, the leadership of both parties is creating a rift that has made collaboration or cross-party cooperation impossible. I dont know what the cause has been in the recent past that excentuated this and I don’t know what the solution could be. All I know is that as a young person who is part of the generation that is the “future” of our country, it is concerning. I hope to see change made in the near future, not in the system, but in the mindset of those who run the system.

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Home About Archive Mitch HagstromMitch Hagstrom
Executive Vice President
Chief Banking Officer
Pacific Continental Bank

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