In November our country will be making a decision that has incredible consequences for the future of our country. We will be electing a new president. A new leader for our nation. A new leader of the free world.
In looking at our field of GOP candidates, there are many different people with many different styles and personalities. So which will be the best leader? Which will be the most enduring leader?
There are four basic types of leaders. Each has followers but in each case, the followers are motivated differently and their motivation may be limited.
The first type of leader is the hero. This person influences others based upon how they feel about the leader. This person may be an expert in their field and could be quite charismatic. So many candidates attempt to draw people in because of who they are. They give people a laundry list of all that they have accomplished. They focus on why they can accomplish what others have not. The extreme examples of this type of leader are Barack Obama and Donald Trump. Listen to them talk and in each case it is clearly all about him. This leadership style can be effective for a while. However, their influence declines as real life occurs and followers find out that this leader has warts. Ask Tiger Woods how his influence changed after his fall from grace. His promotional value fell like a rock because people weren’t impressed anymore. It will always happen. For some it takes longer than others. Relying on someone purely because of who they are is a set up for disappointment. Nobody is perfect. Political opponents will work hard to make those warts known.
Another type of leader is the person who pays for people’s allegiance. Followers will fall in behind them in order to get what they promise. Democrat candidates typically fall into this category. They promise free stuff and people get excited just thinking about it. They offer access to rich people’s money. They promise free healthcare, free college tuition. Cradle to grave, they promise that the government will take care of citizens. Again, this influence is temporary. As Margaret Thatcher said, “Eventually they will run out of other people’s money.” Either they can’t afford what is promised or they are unable to deliver for another reason. As that happens, followers leave and either find someone who offers more or who they think can deliver.
The third leadership style uses fear as a motivator. Threats and sometimes intimidation are used to frighten people into doing their will. A form of this is common in the political realm. Politicians don’t want people to fear them. However, there are many instances where fear is used against others. Seniors are told that if they don’t vote a certain way they will lose their Medicare or Social Security. The poor are told that Republicans want to take away their welfare. Again, this is a temporary motivator. It only works as long as people are afraid. Often they get tired of being afraid. They might find that the threats are empty ones or learn something that enlightens them to the truth. At that point, the credibility of the person making the threats is tarnished and their influence declines.
The most effective leader is the one who makes the followers feel good about themselves. They voice confidence in the followers. They let them know that he/she can’t do anything without them but that together they can accomplish anything. You seldom hear this in politics. It focuses less on the leader and more on the people. In a campaign, that is quite a gamble. This year, however, there is one person who is demonstrating this kind of leadership. Ben Carson is working diligently to educate the American people about the Constitution, the government and their responsibility in making this nation work. He has written books about it and speaks of it frequently in his stump speeches. He talks of “We the people” taking the government back, not allowing the media to dictate to us who is or is not a legitimate candidate. He goes to the poor and tells them that he wants to help them climb out of poverty once and for all, promising that he will help by encouraging companies to make work available to them. He and his wife, Candy, have run a non-profit organization designed to help young people from all backgrounds to go to college. He tells people that they are the ones that have the most influence over what happens in their own lives. Carson’s own story inspires people to want to take personal responsibility. When speaking about the very serious challenges facing our nation, he doesn’t sugar-coat things. Instead, he promises that difficult decisions must be made but together we will make them and we will be better for it. This kind of leadership lasts.
Which leadership style is going to win out in the election of 2016? Will there be buyer’s remorse after the fact? That remains to be seen. Hopefully as voting time approaches, people will take a sober assessment of the candidates they like and ask themselves ‘what kind of leader is this person.’ In what would I be placing my confidence? Above all, people should make a decision and vote their conscience.