Leading vs. Campaigning

Here in the US, we are now well into the morass known as the US Presidential election campaigns. Although campaigning seems perpetual these days, it certainly gets ramped up every four years, when the election for President takes place. Billions of dollars have already been spent on campaign advertising alone. Hopefully the media companies and consultants will benefit, as the voters will certainly experience enormous campaign ad fatigue by the time it is over.

So, just a quick reminder as this process occurs. Remember that people are leaders when they demonstrate leadership, not just because they win an election. Campaigning is very different from leading. Candidates have the opportunities to give grand speeches about their plans if elected. But they may be showing little signs of providing any kind of leadership. We do need to hear the points of view leaders have about the future, so the conversations and speeches are important. We also need to know the leaders are credible and will follow through on the promises they make. Leadership is so much more than a rousing presentation of a professionally well written speech.

Funny thing: often many of the candidates are actually shirking the leadership responsibilities of their current jobs, in order to run their campaigns. I do find this amazing. Try that at your job. Hey boss, I am no longer going to do my work so I can actively interview with other companies to get a better job. You gotta love the irony!

Also, keep in mind that leadership is not the same thing as power, authority, high position, or impressive titles. A middle school student working to eliminate bullying is demonstrating leadership. A retired in place CEO, spending all day strategizing to maximize her or his personal severance package is not.

Leadership is about rallying people to step up to achieve greater things. And around the world today, there are certainly a number of truly compelling challenges, which will require the efforts of a number of great leaders. Hopefully for all of us, many of the people running for both President and Congressional positions will be those leaders who step up and follow through with needed results, and not just be great campaigners.

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