Looking At Leadership

“The joy of a leader can often be seen in the joy of those being led”

No one would argue the value of having a great leader. In last week’s post, some of the qualities of leadership were discussed (click here to read it). When attempting to characterize positive attributes of a strong leader, many look to the past and cite examples of those whom history has touted as successful. But is this always the most prudent method?

One of the most highly regarded and respected “founders” of the United States of America was its first President, George Washington. While historians have recorded a stellar reputation for him, many of his contemporaries vehemently disagreed. Thomas Paine penned a scathing letter denouncing Washington as “a hypocrite in public life” and going as far as implying that he had forsaken any good principles.

A little research will uncover numerous disparities, bitter disagreements, and public feuds between many of those who fashioned the fledgling nation. While there is no objective to tarnish any of their reputations, it’s important to understand the history of leadership in context.

Progress comes by looking forward. Wisdom comes from observing and studying the past; not only to eliminate or avoid mistakes but also to refine and polish the finer attributes forged by great leaders.

Our world is in a constant state of change and while at times seems very flawed, a true leader strives to become aware of those faults and works to change them for the benefit of those being led. It’s important that fairness, equality, and integrity fuel the force behind why a leader takes that position. Sacrifice is a given and at times, risks his or her own life solely for the purpose and benefit of others.

Unfortunately, many who profess to be leaders have taken advantage of their position for lucrative gains. Others have usurped the legislative process and established laws intended only for their benefit. They have no empathy much less guilt for cementing laws designed to crush the rights and oppress those who remotely resist their selfish intentions. In fact, they will even try to make those they’ve devastated feel ashamed for their dissent.

Great leaders will accept the responsibility when things go awry, even when they weren’t responsible. When something goes wrong under their watch, they sense an urgency to re-right the situation. Finger pointing and shifting blame are techniques used by pseudo-leaders because that only serves to divide and polarize their constituents. There are plenty of contemporary examples and some of these may be heading past a point of no return.

Perhaps the difficulty lies in finding outstanding leadership and giving them the recognition they most certainly deserve. Those who have only the best intentions rarely get accolades owed them simply because they don’t need it and aren’t searching for it.

It’s high time that these examples are the ones which garner the spotlight and are brandished for their selfless and gallant outcomes. If you have a story of extraordinary leadership, tell us about it in the comments. Many thanks to Justin Cron for the beautiful picture. Find out more about him by clicking here. 


John Dunia
John Dunia
John has a passion; and that is helping others heal from past difficulties and abuses. Healing became important when he realized how much it freed him from his own past and now works to help others experience that liberation. The key to his success was discovering that the most debilitating damage was his own shame and the destructive things he believed about who he was. Throughout his own healing journey, he became hyper-aware of how shame was affecting him while having little clue of its presence. Others noticed these changes and reached out to him for help. His methods were so effective that he made it a mission to shift his career into helping others. Adopting the term “ShameDoctor”, he continues to teach others to empower themselves through his remarkably effective techniques. “Shame is one of the biggest yet least talked about issues we face as individuals and society yet so very little is mentioned about it.” It is his purpose to change the way the world perceives shame and promote helpful and viable techniques to heal and overcome those past struggles. John’s book, “Shame On Me – Healing a Life of Shame-Based thinking” was self-published in 2016. In addition to working with clients, John also writes healing and insightful articles each week. He is also looking forward to speaking on the topics of shame and healing throughout the globe.

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  1. Ah, John, interesting how some are seen in so many ways, isn’t it? Contemporaries of Washington surely had their views, but who knows what their own biases were? Who knows what they saw then through their lenses that was true to them and yet perhaps not to others? And what of our need to believe that Washington was a stellar human? After all, he was our first president! How would we feel if he seemed to be something less than wonderful?

    What’s the old saying? “No man is a hero to his valet”?

    It’s probably a good thing we can’t always see behind the curtain or through the eyes of a valet, but it is a very good thing when someone is consistently seen and understood to be a terrific leader, when even an enemy grudgingly agrees to that.

    You always make me think, John, no matter what you write, and I appreciate that and you for doing so!

    • Thank you Susan. When I reread it this morning, I thought to myself that I should have defended GW a bit more but you are absolutely correct. What I find more and more is that we as humans are evolving and need to continually glean from history what will make us stronger, more effective humans.

    • You know what, John? I think Washington’s reputation is probably cemented in our consciousness, for better or worse … and he’s been gone for a lot of years, so nothing we say or write can hurt him directly.

      I agree with your last sentence here in your comment; history has much to teach us if we look and listen to it.