Have you ever wondered, “Where have all the leaders gone?”
I don’t mean to insult any business leaders, government leaders, or faith leaders today; but where are the one’s we’ll write about for the next 100 years? Where are the Abraham Lincoln’s? Where are the John F. Kennedy’s? Where did all the “Big” one’s go?
Maybe you’re satisfied with the status quo, but every day that passes in my world, I wonder, “Who can stand up and unite the people of America? Who can put forward a vision for the future without being shackled to the past? Who can look across party lines, faith lines, racial lines, and economic status to move ideas down the road?”
Maybe it’s always been this way, and history has a habit of electing her own. I’m sure Lincoln wasn’t the most popular President when he held office. I’m confident Winston Churchill had his own detractors. But something seems to be missing in the field of leadership.
There’s a whole lot of people willing to talk about what it means to be a leader, but fewer and fewer are rising to the pedestal we might often expect as greatness.
So what gives? Where are they?
Maybe Leadership Has Changed
Maybe we can finally say, gone are the day where we need some iconic figure to usher in a new age. Maybe leadership is now so embedded into niche places of business and government, that there’s no longer leaders who garner the respect of the masses. Maybe we just don’t need that person anymore.
And then I think of Pope Francis.
Talk about someone who lead a group of people out of the muck and the myer of controversy!! I’ve never seen such a rapid turn around. I enjoy reading about his consistent plight for the poor, and the remarks he makes concerning reform. But I’m sure in the back halls of the Vatican, there are those who are threatened, and the power structures are trying to deal with the new ‘mad man.’
Where is the American leader like Pope Francis?
I don’t mean there needs to be an American Pope, but where is the leader that everyone in the country can lift high and say with confidence, “Like them or not, That’s our Leader.”
I don’t know. Maybe Leadership HAS changed.
Maybe We’re Not Training Leaders
There’s something about the iconography of being a leader that feels much like some kind of celebrity. With our current cultural tidal waves of popularity, I’m sure becoming someone in the spotlight is the envy of many. But in order that we have leaders, we have to have those willing to sacrifice for the sake of another. We need training grounds were leadership is taught, and then given the full weight of resources to succeed.
Are there such places? Do there exist environments in today’s world where the leader is actually more important than his or her mentor?
Maybe the lure of fame has threatened that mystical “YODA” like sage sitting in the back room with all the wisdom and knowledge it takes to help create the new Skywalker. At least in my experience, it’s rare to see a leadership training program that focuses on the success of the students, rather than the successes of the teachers.
Maybe we need to re-think how we help leaders emerge?
Maybe it’s not about paving the way for success, but actually creating obstacles for students to learn to overcome?
Maybe our parenting style, our mentoring style, or our coaching style needs to be more in line with Lincoln’s history of failure so we can see the emergence of someone who holds steadfast to conviction.
Maybe it’s not leaders we need to be worried about. Maybe we just don’t have any followers
Every high school in America wants to tout their commitment to the next generation of leaders.
Have you ever seen a High School market itself as the world’s number 1 follower training ground? I’m just guessing that’s not exactly going to sell high on the priority list of today’s private schools.
Honestly: Maybe we don’t have a problem with leaders, but we’ve forsaken the time-honored values of following someone through an idea no matter what. Maybe we just don’t know how to listen. Maybe we’re not amazed by much anymore, and it takes more and more to get us off our couches to actually put energy into following a movement.
Maybe we just need some time working on what it means to follow a great idea, rather than pursuing everyone as a leader?
I don’t know…
Maybe we’re just destined to lead alone.
Back to my original question: If we’re so good at training leaders, Where are they?