Those that know me well know of my love for children. I enjoy being around them. Their honesty combined with their curiosity about the world brings me joy. Going from teacher to children’s book author made perfect sense for me. These beautiful young people understand more than most adults give them credit for and that’s why it upsets me when I see adults, especially those in leadership positions, setting bad examples for them. Perhaps they mistakenly believe that children aren’t watching. They are.

Stand up for what is right even if you’re standing alone.

This was the poster I had in my classroom for years.

Teachers teach their students to act in kindness towards one another. They let kids know that bullying is wrong. Teachers in Florida are even required to watch a training video every year on bullying so they can be aware and stop it when it happens. Teachers intervene when kids argue and show them how to resolve their conflict in a healthy way. Good teachers are helping to raise our children, understanding tolerance, and how to respect each others personhood regardless of differences.

So, here’s my problem. Why are we as a society expecting our children to behave a certain way and then allowing some of our leaders to behave the complete opposite? Why are we choosing some leaders that are afraid to speak their truth for fear they won’t get voted into office? Isn’t that the definition of a follower and not a leader? Why are we allowing ourselves to be too busy to study the facts of an issue and make up our own minds on where we stand instead of blindly following the loudest most charismatic voice? The voice that has been trained to utter key phrases that will ignite passion.

Yes, we are to blame for all those politicians that attack each other because we don’t hold them accountable to better behavior. We are to blame because we follow them. Some people cling to the democrat or republican team and go to the polls without even knowing the issues. That’s if they even go to the polls.

We allow some politicians to teach our children that a leader is someone who can be bought, someone who manipulates others for their own gain or for the gain of special interest, someone who doesn’t have to treat people with kindness or respect if they have different opinions, and someone who changes their beliefs based on their political affiliation. Aren’t they in a way making fun of us? They’re relying on our ignorance in order to get us to follow. Maybe if no one mentions the words “climate change” Floridians won’t believe it’s real. Silly and degrading. Worse yet, as election day nears some will insult each other in ads trying to convince us that the decision to vote for them is as easy as the decision to buy TIDE or ALL. I don’t know about you, but I HATE THOSE COMMERCIALS! They go against everything I’ve taught my children and taught in the classroom. I’ve been in a relationship with the same man for 25 years, I know how to disagree with someone and still value them as a person. Disagreeing does not mean verbally attacking or belittling. It is possible to state the facts, hold different opinions, and agree to disagree.

Leadership Qualities

An election is coming up and I’m already dreading all of the ugliness it will bring.  I’ve been guilty of not doing my homework when it comes to the candidates. This year I’m changing that. I’m choosing to educate myself on all the presidential candidates and the issues they back and the special interest behind them. I will do the work because I care who represents me. I care that my leader has leadership skills which include a breadth of knowledge about our history, our government, and all the issues we face as a nation. I care that my leader has the decency to respect their opponents even when they don’t agree with them.  I don’t want a leader who stands at the podium and tells me a story about some family in Idaho to try to manipulate me into feeling something. Let’s leave the stories to the storytellers. Oh, wait…

I want a leader who is not afraid to tell the truth. One who can admit to their mistakes and can speak from their heart. I want a leader who is professional in every way and understands that they are representing our country. They should care so much for this country that they hold themselves to high standards and that means being a decent human being. I care that my leader has compassion for others and is able to make their own decisions regardless of special interest. I care that my leader is educated to every side of an issue, makes informed decisions and can work across party lines for the good of the nation.

Help Create Change

I challenge everyone to find a news outlet that is not politically biased and to read about all the upcoming candidates and their views on issues you care about. Are you able to see the valid arguments on both sides? Are you able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes? Good decision-making is being able to see all sides and then making an informed decision. Bad decision-making is following others without checking all the facts and getting caught up in the typical conservative/liberal rhetoric.

What difference do you want to make for your future grandchildren and  great-grandchildren? Do you care or has all the ugly behavior of so many politicians made you apathetic? Well, it’s our votes they’re after so really we’re the ones with the power to create change and to teach them that we at least expect them to behave as well as our school children.

Comments to "What Do You Look For In A Leader?"

  1. Greg Halpern

    April 19, 2015

    Hi Krista,
    Politicians don’t equal leaders, and leaders don’t equal politicians. The offices they hold are not/not leadership positions. They are “potential for leadership” positions. They have to prove their worth to the American public not through their words, but through their deeds! Certainly leaders have to have followers or they wouldn’t be leaders… unfortunately, the American public IS swayed by a handsome face, a clear and powerful speaking voice or, as you mentioned, a good story to persuade people.

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