Today’s the first time I’ve been up early enough to see frost this autumn! The early start was to get into Edinburgh to offer the BBC Radio Scotland Thought for the Day. This morning’s Thought was on Leadership…
Yesterday it was reported that former Republican President George Bush Sr voted for Hilary Clinton rather than Donald Trump in the last Presidential election. Explaining his decision to vote contrary to his own political allegiance, Mr Bush described Mr Trump as a “Blowhard”.
It’s yet another example of negative press about the characters of those in high profile leadership roles. In politics as well as in other spheres, we seem dissatisfied with the personal qualities of our leaders. But if we’ve identified what we don’t want to see, what would help us togrow leaders who exhibit what we do want?
An unlikely but compelling example suggesting what good leadership requires is found in Psalm 23, from which we get the well known hymn “The Lord’s My Shepherd”. Although we tend to think of it as a Psalm of comfort, it was likely intended as a prayer to be said by a King.
Read through that lens, the Psalm offers wisdom about what good leadership involves. Declaring publicly that the “Lord is his Shepherd” the King makes himself accountable to a higher authority. He recognises that he can lead only because he is led – that every leader needs a guide. He also recognises he is formed by that guide. Good leadership is shaped by good role models. The picture is one of a leader who is grounded, humble and has integrity.
Of course, in twenty-first century life leadership takes many different shapes:
from MP’s to teachers, business people to church ministers, nurses to parents: all have different leadership roles. Yet perhaps this ancient picture might hold wisdom for all of us.
It might prompt us to ask where we can find good role models? Or to ask how we can ensure that leaders in all spheres of life are held accountable? And perhaps, if we want to see things change, it’s down to us – to work to be the leaders we want to see, and to provide the necessary role models and nurture to give the leaders of tomorrow a firm foundation today.
There’s a great chapter on this in Stephen Croft’s short book The Gift of Leadership.