This essay was for a scholarship entry about the qualities of a leader. If you would like to check out my book Accursed Red, click here. Thank you!
The qualities people value most and the ones leaders depend upon are two separate groups. It is an unfortunate reality, and it would be a lie to say that all the best leaders were admirable people. Manipulative, greedy, exploitative, and vile rulers make up many of our most popular leaders throughout history. While these qualities can still be seen today (especially during these times of panic and chaos) more people are turning toward political figures like Bernie Sanders and other individuals that promote equality and revolutionary change. With the right mixture of bold tenacity, transparent purposefulness, and empathy for their people, a great leader can be made and will inspire the masses.
A tenacious leader is firm and persistent, pushing for their policies and not backing down before showing some teeth. They are inseparable from their will, never violent, and all action. An American president that comes to mind with this description is Franklin D. Roosevelt. His New Deal programs went against what millions of Americans stood for, and his changes were not enacted with ease. Nevertheless, he stood by his desire for change and generated jobs for his people. Being bold and different helps instill hope and promote growth; mixing tenacity with boldness creates a strong, dependable leader.
Leadership is a concept that must work in tandem with purpose. All the best leaders have a purpose– from Hitler to Gandhi–and the greatest ones make it clear and transparent. This is why presidents like Jimmy Carter are not highly regarded because they seem to lack a sense of direction. A leader with purposefulness is everything. It’s what rallies their supporters, shoots them to the top of the political food chain, boosts their popularity and platform. A leader is no good with a convoluted purpose, let alone none at all. Purpose develops from passion, and it is easy to sense when a figure lacks it.
This last characteristic is much more personal than the previous two. I mentioned before that a great leader is not necessarily a good person. Even so, the trait I value most is empathy. How can a leader serve his people if he does not keep himself knowledgeable on all the plights and hardships they face? How can a leader promote change when she fails to recognize what those changes even need to be? Emotional intelligence is sorely lacking in this political landscape, and hypocrisy runs free. Leaders must remember the reason why their positions were created and fulfill the duties of their citizens. Kindness, consideration, and heart are what make a leader inspiring and true, pure in their speech and motives. Empathy is what makes real change happen all across a nation and within its people.
These qualities all are developed from passion and knowledge. An informed, resolute leader builds their platform on the above qualities, and they continue to marinate in their minds until they are fully developed. Wordly figures that read, study, and speak with intelligent clarity (as Barack Obama exemplified during his presidency) all illustrate the effects of having purpose and a desire to communicate and help people. Tenacity, purposefulness, and empathy are the values in leadership all figures of power must have in order to promote change and gain positive support.
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Art credits to poerobot on Tumblr