Sunday, September 29, 2013

Recently I had an opportunity to discuss the current political situation in Czech Republic with two young Czech executives. They both characterized the current leadership vacuum here is an absence of sustainable leadership. One of them suggested that countries such as Czech Republic are full of people who have reasonable material comforts, and yet lead lives of quiet, and at times noisy desperation. Like in neighboring Germany, they increasingly are becoming "nichtwahlers" or non-voters. In terms of how happy they feel to live in their own country, according to a world wide poll, Czechs now rank on 39th place, Poles on 51st place and Hungarians on 110th place.

So I asked them what do they think may be wrong with their country in terms of the leadership situation. First they hesitated for a while. Then one of them suggested that old, worn out totalitarian thinkers are no longer able to inspire the new generation of young, educated voters. They only appeal to those still thinking in totalitarian terms, and prefer to think only about themselves, not about the needs of the rest of citizens living in the country.

So I told them about the International Leadership Institute's programs we have been organizing for years (ever since the collapse of totalitarian communism in East and Central Europe) for leaders from post-communist countries, and about what we learned from those leaders over the years. Together with participants in the ILI programs we came up with a profile of a successful 21st century leader.

St Vaclav, Duke of Bohemia in the 10th century
Here are some typical observations:
We agreed that successful 21st century leaders typically encourage and lift others from where they are to where I
t is their potential to be. They do not aim for mediocrity but for excellence. They serve in their leadership roles with energy, intelligence, imagination, diligence, wisdom and good will toward others. Such leaders do no evil and do not condemn their neighbors but keep their oath even when it hurts.

They protect the weak and the needy from those who malign them . They are able to correctly discern their priorities and focus diligently on key tasks for the good of their country.

Then one of the two future leaders asked me, how can the country find such leaders.  I suggested that a healthy country, with a healthy society should be able to produce them.

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