Hoisting the Flag of Leadership in Everyday Life
by Emily Lang
There’s an old parable about leadership that’s been on my mind lately. As it goes, a military general finds himself timid in battle. He is unsure of the right path and afraid his troops will not willingly follow him as he asks them to do the difficult things war requires. Instead of leading he sits back, and he watches as his disorganized, frightened soldiers fight a scattered war and losing battles. The troops suffer as their general frets, afraid to make the wrong move.
And then one day, a young soldier steps up and makes a plan. The troops, hungry for leadership, begin to listen to the brave young solider, and they begin to see success on the battlefield.
It is then that the general runs to the frontline, hoists his sword in the air, puffs out his chest and loudly proclaims, “Now, where would you like me to lead you?”
I think of this general, his brave troops and the step-up soldier, and I wonder where they might fit in the context of our modern-day battles.
As the march to Election Day has gone from steady stroll to brisk clip, have you ever stopped to consider how much of our lives are governed by those elected to lead?
Yes, America is the land of the free and the home of the brave, but our founding fathers set up a system wherein the people of this land choose other people to make smart decisions on behalf of the community at-large.
We, the people, elect leaders nationally to set policies that help us compete globally and protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness individually. If you or someone you know receives a social security check, accesses health care through Medicaid or drives federal highways, you are impacted in a very real sense by those chosen for national leadership.
We elect leaders at the state level, too, and our state officials fulfill various roles that affect our everyday lives as citizens. Those of us with children might realize this impact most directly in our state’s ability to offer a quality public education. Those of us with businesses see the impact in policies that allow for growth and a reasonable regulatory framework.
And then there’s the local level. Locally, we choose city councilmembers to help establish proper zoning requirements and manage the delivery of core services like water, electricity and public safety. This is the form of government that’s closest to the people, and as former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill once said, “All politics is local.”
Lately we have seen local officials stand in the face of unprecedented pressure from their troops, and in this story, we, the citizens of our respective communities are the troops. Communities with strong leaders, willing to make hard decisions and chart a vision and a sensical path will thrive. That’s what leadership requires. That’s what we elect leaders to do. They deserve our support and our thanks.
And when leaders, at any level, fail to do that, it is up to us to relieve them of their duties on election day, and it is from within our ranks that future leaders may rise up — and lead.