Leading from the Front

28 March

I have four boys between the ages of five and ten years old that are full of energy, enthusiasm, and curiosity. A simple family trip to the grocery store can turn into a complex activity of herding them through the various aisles and ultimately to the cashier.

On a recent shopping trip I discovered that they responded different ways to me leading them from behind versus the front. As long as I stayed amongst them, I spend my energy on communicating boundaries, disciplining violations, and responding to every request for chocolate (a family favorite). As I moved out in front and “pulled” them along, they put their focus on me and keeping up with the list of things we needed to accomplish. The boundaries and distractions no longer held any power as their focus was on the goal of keeping up with daddy.

This simple analogy describes my own frustration with our current political leaders. Too often they are stuck leading from behind and are scared to challenge us to a higher calling. As a community, we need a big goal, something to keep us optimistic, energetic, and focused. When we think of the great leaders of history like US President John F. Kennedy, they did exactly this. Kennedy’s great call to the US was to be the first nation to the moon. At the time he made this challenge, there was no way to get to the moon…it was unthinkable. The unthinkable became impossible and then inevitable as society focused on a goal that was so far ahead that no singular person, community, or company could have achieved on its own. China has done the same with milestones like the Olympics in Beijing and the World Expo in Shanghai and experienced enormous leaps in the development of society. Yet today the two biggest economies in the world largely lack a focus and I can’t point to any singular purpose or goal that unites them in their future.

Here’s a call out to Barack Obama and Xi Jingping to step out, think big, and lead from the front!

One Response to “Leading from the Front”

  1. April 18, 2013 at 5:42 pm, Amalia Giebitz said:

    Having recently returned to the US after six years in China, I completely concur. I think that the leadership now though, comes less from individuals like world leaders and more from the relationships people build within and between communities. Those relationships, and the stories that come from them, lead and inspire change. Your organization’s work, and hopefully our work back here in America, can lead at least as effectively as any of the over-burdened political leaders of our planet.

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