You don’t get to be involved in politics and embrace certain right wing views as I have without enjoying a good fight. I’ve been known to really enjoy trolling certain Facebook pages for abortion facilities and Battleground Texas until I was blocked.
The last couple of years though I admit that has calmed dramatically. Some of it is the wisdom gained through age, but I have to give a great deal of credit to a candidate I’ve had the pleasure of working with and who I consider one of my closest friends, Read King.
As I watched Read speak with people over the last couple of years I’ve noticed some very unique interactions that show his leadership abilities. This leadership style was so unique and interesting I spent a few months studying it and asking questions. It’s very natural for Read that putting it into words took some time. After analyzing it and working it out for myself I believe the following is the best way to describe it: Love, Learn, Lead.
You have to start out by truly loving people. You must to genuinely care about their wants, needs, ideas, and motivations. Care about them as individuals first without any label attached to them. By going back to the basics and seeing each constituent as a person rather than a vote to be earned or an opponent to be defeated you place yourself in the best position to truly connect with them.
When you connect with a person then you’re in a place to learn. You can learn what they care about and what motivates them. What do they truly wish to accomplish. Since you have that genuine care you want to dig beyond the complaints, talking points, and policy initiatives. The deeper you go the more you tend to find people are a lot more alike than we realize.
Instead of starting where you disagree begin with a place of agreement. Conversations tend to begin and end with areas of discord, but by letting the other person talk and truly listening then we can find areas of agreement. There are plenty of things that need to get done and people even agree on why and how, but too often we are shouting pass one another on to many other issues to accomplish them.
While you should start in areas of agreement that is not an excuse to avoid standing firm on principles and accomplish important reforms in difficult areas where there is disagreement. Since you’ve started by truly caring about the other person, learning about them and working in accord with them then you have a much smoother path when it comes time to move ahead on a path they don’t desire to take.
Some tips on leading:
Always be fair and properly state your opponents intention and reason for disagreeing. I saw an online argument recently between two of my friends where one accused the other of saying that socialism was not against the Constitution, but what she really said was being a socialist (however foolish) was not against the Constitution. She was making an argument about freedom of thought, but it was warped into something else making conversation about the topic impossible. When necessary truly present the opposition’s stance and reasoning even when the favor is not returned in kind.
Know your principles and be be ready state your reasoning why. If you’re about to make a vote or stance on a bill then know how your core principles play in to it. How do they interact and what principle is supreme. Maybe you’re like me and one of your principles is that government should not interfere with private businesses, but when a bill comes up to limit abortions by regulating facilities what do you do? That is when it is important to remember that government’s duty to protect life is primary. If your principles have a firm foundation then your record will have one as well.
Don’t be afraid to stand alone. If you’ve studied an issue from all sides and you are certain that your reasoning is solid then stand firm. There was a bill last session put forward by an organization that generally supports Read. The bill had a certain requirement in it that some members of the organization thought opened a door to government interference. Personally, I did not see the issue with the bill but Read and others did. Even though he is one of the groups strongest proponents on issues and would be a fierce fighter on all their other bills it seems as though the disagreement may cause the campaign to lose the endorsement. As we discussed the issue I encouraged Read to cave on the issue. I was wrong. While I’m not in agreement on it I think even I would have lost respect if he had told them what they wanted to hear for the endorsement. Willingness to lose out in the campaign gives me confidence that he won’t be bought off once in Austin. Principles matter.
I write all this knowing that none of us will perfect in it. Sometimes loving others can be pretty difficult. The divide can seem too great at times. Yet, the goal is not perfection, but perseverance. We may fail in connecting or leading, but we must keep striving towards those ideals. If we can do that then we can truly be that “city on a hill.”