Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Character and Leadership

One question that has been on my mind a lot is, “What is the relationship between the founders of the country and the country?”

America's founders included some amazing individuals. Whereas the founders of the Soviet Union were a bunch of pushy arrogant know-it-alls. By that standard it stands to reason that the character of the founders of the country is vastly influential as to what the country becomes.

There is also however evidence to the contrary. Julius Nyerere was a much better person than Mobutu Sese Seko; but that did not result in Tanzania becoming a better place than Zaire. Tanzania suffered a lot, and that was the case even though its independence leader was a good man.

In American politics we see that and more. Jimmy Carter was a good man but a bad president. Bill Clinton was a bad person but an excellent president. Under Clinton, America thrived and created 23 million private jobs while also getting rid of the deficit. Bill Clinton's character had nothing to do with it; his ideas and his policies did.

Is the character of the leader definitive of the path that the country takes? From what I have seen, it does not. There are people with excellent character who make bad leaders, and there are people with good character who make terrible leaders. Jimmy Carter was a much better man than Bill Clinton. But under Clinton America prospered, whereas under Carter it did not.

I do not see why the success of a leader is in any way dependent on his character. Some people with good character will be good leaders, and some people with good character will not. Same is the case with people with bad character, whether they be Bill Clinton or Mobutu Sese-Seko.

Does character determine one's worth as a leader? I think that it can work out in any number of ways. Sometimes the character will result in rightful actions. Sometimes it will not result in a rightful action. Respect by all means people with character; but do not think that it is the only thing that shapes the reality of their actions.


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