What Qualities Are You Seeking in a Leader?December 26th, 2023
by Monica Islam
National elections are approaching fast in the Indian subcontinent (India, Pakistan and Bangladesh). In Bangladesh, the elections are set to be held on January 7, 2024. Concerns are growing about the validity and reliability of the elections, i.e. whether the elections will be free, fair, credible and inclusive for all the parties to participate without any fear of violence and retribution. As an ordinary citizen, I am increasingly keen on dissecting the nature of leadership and the qualities that it constitutes.
Authentic: In today’s world of sensational news-mongering and viral marketing, it is rare to find a leader who is genuine or real. We do not want someone who is perfect or infallible. Rather, we want someone who can own up to his/her mistakes and pledge to overcome idiosyncrasies or biases of the self. For instance, it is fine to be religiously biased or racially skewed, but he/she must recognize his/her shortcomings and vow to mend his/her ways. He/she must work with excellence, not perfection. That is what makes one a human being. As John Keats had remarked in his poem Ode on a Grecian Urn, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”
Balanced: United Nations chief Antonio Guterres had once said to world leaders, “Politics is compromise. Diplomacy is compromise. Effective leadership is compromise. It is time for compromise for a better tomorrow.” In a chaotic world as ours with differing ideologies, a leader must be neutral and inclusive and imbibe a give and take approach. He/she must not believe in taking and winning only.
Representative: As a leader, one must represent the various opinions that may take shape as a result of the negotiation process. A leader must be prepared to represent us in our absence. It is a collective responsibility. For instance, we must be able to trust our leader that he/she will represent us in say a meeting or a conference in our absence and uphold our viewpoints and concerns.
Resilient: It amazes me when a leader plays the victim or uses sob stories to stay relevant to the wider public. For instance, a community leader had once shared how he altered his sexual orientation and became homosexual just because he was bullied in school for his so-called feminine traits. While I understand that problems or systemic abuse can change us in ways that we cannot fully grasp, I still find it tragic that we should change so drastically. We must be resilient and true to ourselves and to the community in the face of adversity.
Selfless: Mahatma Gandhi had said, “The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.” A leader must not be greedy or self-serving. He/she must be ready to share opportunities and resources.
Solutions-Oriented: A leader must be paving the way for solutions instead of just raising a hue and cry over problems.
As we gear up to cast our votes, I leave you with one question to ponder: what leadership qualities are you looking for in your favourite election candidate?