Character Traits of Effective Leadership - Why Our Government Fails

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					Character Traits of Effective Leadership - Why Our Government Fails
The traffic light turned yellow and my dad eased off the accelerator to
let the big blue Oldsmobile super 88 coast to a smooth stop. It was a
glorious Sunday morning in the fall of 1957; I was ten years old and
thought he knew everything anyone could know. A transplant, from the
rural south, he was drawn to Detroit after hearing Henry Ford was paying
all workers equal pay for equal work. Mr. Ford kept his word and
precipitated one of the largest migrations of population in U.S history.
The descendant children of the nation's former slaves relocated to
Detroit and other big cities of the northern United States to work in the
auto industry.
Our nation freed its slaves in 1863 but without money, education or
training most were forced to return to their former owners as
sharecroppers. The sharecroppers were required to work the land and exist
on whatever meager compensation the former slave owners wished to give.
They lived on the land in impoverished conditions and because they had
been sold like cattle, for hundreds of years, a great number did not know
where or who their parents, brothers and sisters were. Children had been
routinely sold away from their parents and most, old enough to work when
freedom came, had no survival skills. Those, young and old, who would not
return to their former slave owners, pillaged the land and stole to eat
and feed the very young.
By the time my dad was born, in 1902, some family ties had been
reestablished but the identity of blood relatives prior to 1863 was lost
forever. Some black historians and educators have been able to locate
bills of sale and other artifacts that sufficiently described slaves for
their blood relatives to be identified today. But for most slave
descendants, these blood relationships can only be discovered through DNA
Dad was a sharecropper on the land of the family who had owned his father
when news of Henry Ford's promise came to him; he made the decision to
come to Detroit. The first place my parents lived in Michigan was a
little four room house on Beaubien Street. Dad worked hard and was very
proud to be a citizen of Detroit. On our Sunday morning drives, to
church, he would always point out the Ford plant at Piquette and Woodward
saying the first model T came off the assembly line there and that
Detroit had the first traffic light in the nation. Dad loved Boston
Coolers, made with vanilla ice cream and ginger ale. He claimed the drink
was named after Detroit's Boston Boulevard, not the city in
The city of Detroit has a rich history and should be proud of the way it
helped change the living standards, hopes and aspirations for education,
of a disenfranchised people.
Over the past 40 years the city has fallen on tough economic times as a
result of a shift of its tax base to the suburbs, corporate reduction in
its manufacturing base and competition with a global economy. However,
the economic pain is intensified by the city's lack of effective
leadership. The city's mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick is facing trial for lying
under oath in a whistle blowers law suit. He is implicated in numerous
scandals involving bid rigging, police misconduct, perjury, adultery and
the suspicious murders of not one, but two strippers. The only thing he
has not been accused of, yet, is betraying Christ. Judas still holds that
Detroit's City Council President Pro-Tem Monica Conyers had to be
physically restrained at a city pension board meeting after she
threatened to get a gun and shoot an aide to Mayor Kilpatrick. According
to published reports, in the Detroit News and Free Press, Mrs. Conyers
has been questioned by police in the past. Most notably, she started a
bar fight by punching another woman in the eye and she pulled a gun and
threatened to shoot her 10 year old son. She has had many vocal outbursts
in open council meetings, once calling council President Kenneth Cockrel,
Jr. "Shrek" after saying he was disrespectful to her. Also, in a recent
development an aide to Cockrel resigned after being caught on tape, by
the F.B.I, accepting a bribe.
Based on the behavior of these public officials and the level of
paralysis in Detroit city government one must conclude effective
leadership is absent in the city's halls of government. How do we know
they are not effective leaders? We know they are not effective leaders
because effective leaders are always moving on a positive path. Effective
leaders are good listeners who seek to understand then to be understood.
They tell the truth and keep their promises. They speak plainly and
instinctively simplify big ideas. They understand and are able to
articulate the feelings of their audience and begin many of their
sentences with the pronoun "We".
True leaders are specific in their statements, even using stories and
anecdotes to explain more clearly what they are communicating. Real
leaders are aware of not only the tone of their verbal communication but
of non-verbal communication like gestures, posture, facial expressions,
energy, tone of voice, and a thousand other tiny, unspoken elements which
actually carry the true and specific meaning of any communication.
(Michael Landrum,
Effective leadership is able to communicate complex ideas that listeners
can follow. True leaders have a knack for sharing the form of their
thoughts as well as the content. They don't demand, as Monica Conyers
did, but command respect. They always speak in strong, crisp, clear tones
that vary in texture, color and range. The concerns and interests of the
audience are always foremost in their minds. Great leadership is hopeful
and seeks the higher self in all of us. Effective leaders have a
courageous, positive, optimistic view but are humble; realizing that
having an opinion is not much of an accomplishment. (Michael Landrum,
Effective leadership;
*Gives more than it expects others to give.
*Combines optimism and perseverance.
*Sees everyone as a diamond in the rough.
*Expresses appreciation; accepts responsibility.
*Keeps its ego in check.
*Shows respect for others.
*Treats team members as family.
*Is a source of inspiration.
*Stresses cooperation, not competition.
*Maintains a sense of humor. (Victor Parachin,
The casual observer must conclude that most of our current national and
local leadership closely resembles Detroit's. Why? Because most appear to
use political capital to punish those who oppose them and reward yes men.
They make critical decisions that are based on private agendas and not
the interest of the American people or their local constituency.
Americans obviously believe the behavior is American politics and
representative of our traditional leadership. We accept the behavior by
returning most of the pretend leaders and scoundrels to office. In
reality the opposite is true; these individuals are not and have never
been true leaders, because they fail to demonstrate the character or
qualities of leadership.
The legal, political, social and economic quagmire in Washington and
Detroit are good examples of what happens when real leadership is not at
the helm of government. It is a sure recipe for disaster. Individuals who
lack leadership and are elected to high office will always undermine
cooperation and harmony while presiding over the hellish environment they
create. They will always seek to destroy descent.
In today's world, great leaders are recognized by the positive effects
they have on people. They promote teamwork, encourage excellence, foster
growth and even offer criticism in a productive way. As American citizens
we have a duty to ourselves and our children, to elect public officials
that demonstrate the character and qualities of leadership discussed
Calvin Johnson is a Certified General Real Estate Appraiser with 27 years
of appraisal and mortgage lending experience. He is currently Chief
Appraiser and President of Home Pro, Inc. Northville, Michigan. Mr.
Johnson is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of American Intercontinental
University's renowned, School of Business Hoffman Estates, Illinois,
where he earned a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration. Calvin is
the managing partner of a business opportunity web
site and in the early 1990's created the model and application parameters
for, the Virtual Appraiser, an Internet based valuation application