A good leader has many defining characteristics. Hallmarks of an effective leader include active listening, decisiveness, and the ability to inspire others to own a shared vision of the future. The leadership role frequently requires a stand on issues, which may not always be popular. Robert Kennedy once said “one-fifth of the people are against everything all the time.” This is as evident now as it has been any time in history. With twenty four hour a day newsfeeds, the explosion of blogging and social media, and our ever growing need to always be “plugged in” to what’s going on, such divisiveness in America makes it seem like the percentage is higher!
So what does this mean to the leader seeking to take a stand? Should they listen to the positions of others or simply forge ahead with blinders on? Do they take an unbiased position and seek 360 degree input from others, or do they seek information only from those who agree with them? Do they move their agenda forward by controlling and manipulating the thoughts of others? It is one thing to engage in a civil debate with someone and try to convince the other with facts, but quite another to undermine an opponent or group of people with unethical methods and force of will.
Leaders play a vital part in our lives. Over time they have developed their base of knowledge through life and work experiences. Effective, inspiring leaders aren’t afraid to reflect on the direction they are taking and will honestly consider the views of others. To be inclusive means to include and respect all views, not just those that feed one particular standpoint. It is challenging to be unbiased, and we all have lenses through which our worldviews are filtered. However, an extraordinary leader cannot afford to be biased.