Let's be fair. Many politicians are good and strong leaders. They have a high ethical standard, care for their constituencies first, and seek to serve.
But some politicians are bad. They put self first. They lie. They seek power first.
Can we learn any lessons from bad politicians? Absolutely. Let's look at eight of them.
1. Tell the truth. We are so desensitized to politicians lying that it hardly fazes us when we hear another lie. Some of the lies come in the form of rationalization, yet others are just outright fabrications. True leaders tell the truth. No matter what. No matter the cost.
2. Don't deflect responsibility. How many times during the political season do we hear a politician accept responsibility for a weak economy or a horrid tax code? How many times do we hear politicians say they are responsible to improve these situations? Great leaders take responsibility for that which they lead.
3. Don't lead by placing blame. Right now I keep hearing political ads focused on placing blame on the opposing candidates. Such negative ads are accepted as part of the political climate. But great leaders are more concerned about what they can do well rather than what someone else does poorly.
4. Communicate clearly. Most of us hate spin. It's really just a polite form of lying. True leaders are transparent. They not only tell the truth; they make certain that the truth is communicated in such a way that others understand it clearly.
5. Be aware of the lure of power. It is subtle. It is seductive. It can entice any leader. Many politicians feed off the seduction of power. Great leaders are servants. Their motive is first to serve others.
6. Be willing to sacrifice yourself. It seems rare to hear of politicians who are willing to give up their elected offices to make right decisions. Leaders who make a difference will not put their careers and security before the good of those they serve.
7. Lead by conviction, not by popularity. I read Real Clear Politics almost daily. It's amazing to look at the plethora of polls taken each day. But it's disheartening to watch politicians change their positions on issues as the polls change. Great leaders will do what they sense is right rather than trying to win daily popularity contests.
8. Don't sacrifice the needs of the future for the convenience of the present. It is downright nauseating to see how politicians will postpone tough decisions today and push it forward to the future when they likely will not be around. The clearest examples are Social Security and the growing indebtedness of our nation. Politicians have not yet demonstrated the necessary fortitude to make the tough decisions to secure the future of our nation. Great leaders will make courageous decisions today, even if they aren't popular decisions.
We need great leaders in all areas of our society. We need great educational leaders, great organizational leaders, great medical leaders, and great family leaders. Perhaps one day we can say that the majority of our political leaders are great as well. For now, it does not seem to be the case, and our nation and world is suffering as a result.