Nearly three weeks into the new world order of America under its new president, Donald Trump. What a surreal and unsettling three weeks. It is difficult to concentrate on other interests; they seem so mundane compared to witnessing the unravelling of the world order of the past 70 years since the end of World War II and the ensuing efforts to work together for world peace. If I had died last year, I would have died still believing that we as the human race had that goal in mind; regardless of short-term setbacks, greed, corruption, power struggles, and self-serving interests, that goal of world peace was still alive. But I didn’t die last year and today I find myself have trouble believing that this is in fact a goal of enough of our world leaders at this time. Self-interest, power grabs, and greed appear to reign supreme. Kindness, concern and consideration for others have left the building.
I shouldn’t dwell on President Trump as the main example, but it’s hard not to. After all, we are still being told that he is the leader of the free world. Even the mainstream journalists that Trump reviles so and insults daily continue to refer to the president as “the leader of the free world”. I’m sorry, but when a leader insults his allies, colleagues, the judiciary, corporations, specific nationalities and religions, and anyone else who doesn’t agree with him, and compliments cunning adversaries such as Putin and the Prime Minister of Pakistan (the training grounds for many Islamic terrorists and a country not on his travel ban list), he is not the leader of the free world. The free world as a cooperating collective is in free fall with him as the leader of the United States. Apparently, everyone is now on their own. Good luck to us all.
Several months ago I wrote a collection of posts on leadership. According to the literature on effective leadership, there are a number of characteristics that describe well-regarded and effective leaders, but number one among them is Character. Character includes honesty, trustworthiness, integrity, and empathy. It includes treating others with respect and earning their respect through your actions, gaining their trust, and understanding what’s really important to people being affected by decisions before implementing them. As was concluded in the previous leadership posts, assuming the other aspects of leadership characteristics are covered (competence, communication, conviction, confidence, and commitment), the type of character your leaders bring to their positions makes every difference. Note that being a bully and “stretching the truth” even more than one might expect in the rough-and-tumble world of politics are not on the list of positive characteristics. Leading by fear-mongering doesn’t make the list either. Oh boy, talk about uncharted territory.
So what’s next? Well, no-one can say that this situation is boring! Along with Americans, the rest of the world will be watching the biggest test ever of the checks and balances within which the U.S. government works. The founding fathers of the U.S. enshrined these checks and balances in their Constitution more than 225 years ago, purposefully separating the three branches of government – executive, legislative, and judicial – so that no one group or person could have too much control. It’s not clear that President Trump understands this fully, but the founding fathers were no dummies, as it turns out. We should all hope that these checks and balances stand the test of time and that the other branches of government bring their integrity to the fore. The rest of the world wants and needs the U.S. as a fully participating partner – and leader – in making the world a better place for all.
Photo credit: Kamensky, Washington Post