In just under four days, America votes not only for its president, but also for it's leader. A leader who will have to deal with some significant burdens. The stakes are high for voters, the man they elect will likely be remembered as the man who saved America, or the one who broke it.
According to Jack Welch in today's Australian Financial Review, the next leader of the United States needs "optimism, courage and conviction." He will also need to be a leader for the ages, or as Welch puts it a "leader in the extreme."
So, with Kerry and Bush both locked in a close battle amongst Cathlolics and non-Catholics,, young voters, old voters, men, women and independents, who will voters see as the man most likely? Who will they see as a "leader in the extreme?" Welch poses some questions that Americans might consider before casting their vote, questions that he thinks define a great leader during tough times.
1. Is he real?
"A person cannot make hard decisions, hold unpopular positions or stand tall for what he believes unless he knows who he is and feels comfortable in his own skin.
I am talking about self-confidence and conviction. These traits make a leader bold and decisive, which is absolutely critical in times where you must act quickly, often without complete information. Just as important, authenticity makes a leader likeable, for lack of a better word. His "realness" comes across in the way he communicates and reaches people on an emotional level. His words move them; his message touches something inside"
2. Does he see around corners?
"Every leader has to have a vision and predict the future, of course, but great leaders in tough times must have a special ability to anticipate the radically unexpected... (The) best leaders... have a "sixth sense"For the next president in our new world, a "sixth sense" is not enough. He needs a seventh sense - paranoia about what lurks in dark corners we cannot even see."
3. Who's around him?
"In tough times in particular, a leader needs to surround himself with people who are smarter than he is, and they must have the grit to disagree with him and each other."
4. Does he get back on the horse?
Every leader makes mistakes, every leader stumbles and falls. The question is, does he learn from his mistakes, regroup, and then get going again with renewed speed, conviction and confidence? The name for this trait is resilience and it is so important that a leader must have it going in to a job because if he doesn't, a crisis time is too late to learn it."
5. Is he pro-business (Gee who would have guessed that was coming!)
"Business is great. Successful companies are the engine of a healthy society and nothing short of the foundation of a free and democratic world. A great leader in this day and age must appreciate the value of business to the world. He cannot beat it down, denigrate its participants or create an environment where business people must struggle to build opportunity. When business is weak, America is weak."
So American's could opt for John Kerry's plans, or chose to head further down the radical, transformational path GWB has set for it in his first term, or they could opt to think more about leadership than politics.
Whatever and whichever way they vote, I just hope they get it right.