Leadership in Crisis: Where We Need to Go from Here

We are witnessing the most dysfunctional campaign for the presidency in our lifetime. Does anyone really believe that despite the promises by all candidates that they will solve our problems that the real solutions to our nation’s problems will actually result? Unlikely.

As so often happens after presidential elections the media overplays the importance of the outcome in determining the direction our country will go. More often than not our national elections merely validate a leadership process that is systemically flawed.

The Bridge Alliance, an alliance of 43 organizations working to improve the process of governance in our country, believes citizens deserve more. Effective leadership on all sides of the political spectrum is sorely lacking and most change.

The very nature of the national dialogue must change. The behavior that people accept from our leaders must change.

Thomas Jefferson recognized that democracy was born from discourse and discussion, and that such resulting discussion would be replete with differing perspectives and opinions. This visionary group of men believed that ideological differences would ultimately lead to inquiry, and inquiry to truth. In their writings to each other they discussed how civil discourse and critical thought were essential for their grand experiment in democracy to withstand the test of time.

It is time the vision of Jefferson became the standard we demand of our candidates and of our elected officials. We must demand a new politics that allows room for people from different parties and with different beliefs to sit around a table and make the tough decisions everyone knows need to be made. For this to happen we need a new type of leadership.

The Bridge Alliance is starting a dialogue on the type of leadership We The People would like to see and is engaging citizens in a dialogue on this subject.

Review the list below and ask yourself. Can we demand more from our leaders?

Leadership Today
Dishonesty, misleading statements, and ethical lapses, all premised on the ends justifying means
Leadership Needed
Be direct and honest in public statements and put ethical commitments above partisan or career objectives

Leadership Today
Demonization of opponents and disregard for less powerful constituents and especially persons outside the electorate
Leadership Needed
Respect for all persons, including opponents. Be willing to engage constructively, and do not dehumanize even with those refusing to debate in good faith.

Leadership Today
Lack of accountability for promises, votes, and policies.
Leadership Needed
Take full accountability for actions through a willingness to amend ones positions, learning from ones mistakes, thus resulting in a more constructive approach to problem identifications and solutions.

Leadership Today
Dogma trumps science and social science, and too often politicians are unwilling to listen to divergent points of view and others’ experiences.
Leadership Needed
Always remain open to learning new information and seek it out through supporting research and analysis. Actively broaden one’s horizons and be open-hearted to others.

Leadership Today
Careerism promotes political survival and a focus on short-term benefits over establishing landmark legislation and the fostering of transformative social change.
Leadership Needed
Be willing to demonstrate bold leadership and take political risks if necessary to advance controversial policies, particularly those likely to bring long-term benefits.

Leadership Today
Tribalism resists the building of bridges across constituencies beyond those necessary for reelection.
Leadership Needed
Build bridges and alliances beyond one’s constituency and encourage one’s supporters to do likewise resulting in trust and understanding.

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