Today I'm going to start a new blog feature! Our communications director, Laura Jollay, does a fabulous job each week creating a company newsletter (the GCS Express). This newsletter features articles about goings-on within our centers, industry news and sometimes articles written by our employees. Today I'd like to share with you an employees' thoughts on leadership and the future of the Middle East.
The “Arab Spring” which I discussed in an earlier issue of the GCS Express this year, has given way to the “Arab Autumn” of today with new regimes in Tunisia and Egypt. The world is now engaged in a “death watch”of the regimes of Mohammar Gaddafi in Lybia and Bashar Assad in Syria. There is much speculation about what lies ahead for these countries.
Revolutions have much in common with the way pregnancies were before the advent of sonogram machines. There is much anticipation over the arrival of the “new nation.” Expectations and euphoria are at heightened states but on the “birthday” of the “new nation” you never really know what you are going to get. The aftermath of the revolution can be one where liberty and opportunities abound, as was the case with the birth of our nation on July 4, 1776, or the results can be disastrous as they were in Cuba and Iran.
Many attribute the success of our republic to the “separation of powers” which is contained in the Constitution of the United States but notwithstanding the genius of James Madison and others, without sound leadership, our Constitution would have been only words on parchment.
At the end of the American Revolution, George Washington could have become a dictator or he could have crowned himself emperor as Napoleon Bonaparte did at a later date. Instead, he submitted his sword to Congress and retired to his home in Mount Vernon, Va. The world had not seen such a display of humility and integrity since Cincinnatus submitted his sword to the ancient Roman Senate. Washington cared deeply about those he led and he was willing to put his ego aside for the greater good of our country. He recognized his lack of knowledge of military strategies and was willing to seek the counsel of those with more expertise like Prussian General Von Steuben.
More importantly, when his last term in office as president ended, he did not try to remain in power by changing the Constitution, as Hugo Chavez did in Venezuela. He did not try to continue to exert his influence as prime minister as Vladimir Putin did in Russia. George Washington stepped aside and allowed John Adams to take over the reins of the federal government as chief executive. This is the “stuff” that real leaders are made of. This is the “stuff” needed by those carrying AK 47s on the streets of Tripoli. George Washington did not have to wait until after his death to be recognized as a great leader. He was known and admired throughout the world in his day.
At the end of his life, Napoleon Bonaparte said, “They wanted me to be another George Washington.”
What is needed in these Middle Eastern countries is sound leadership at every level of government. As we go into the season of political primaries leading to the presidential election of 2012, let us not evaluate candidates on the basis of physical attractiveness or their “witty” remarks at television debates. Bear in mind James Madison was no taller than five feet and weighed no more than one hundred and twenty pounds but “from the neck up,” he was twenty feet tall. All of us have seen photographs of Abraham Lincoln and can agree physical attractiveness was not exactly one of his attributes.
Neither the people of the Middle East nor the people of the United States can afford to be distracted by superficial appearances and “razzle dazzle.” Instead, let us not forget the difference one individual can make and let us keep a “check list” of the attributes of leadership so we can turn this presidential election into a “George Washington look-alike contest.”