To Form a More Perfect Union?

I am of the opinion that the presidential election process goes on far too long. But that is not the topic of these posts.

As I listened to the discussions about the “debates,” it occurred to me that there are two questions I would like to ask each candidate. First: “Who are you?” “Do you have a sense of identity?” “What is it that makes you tick?” “Who is the real you?” And second, “Do you understand and intend to support and live by the bylaws of the organization (i.e. the Constitution of the United States of America)?” “How have you demonstrated that support up to this moment?”

Since these are two very distinct topics, I propose to address them separately. This will deal with the second questions. The first, published previously, is called Your Leadership Compass.

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A good leader knows the guidelines and rules that govern his organization.

Every organization should have written guidelines. Most of my leadership experience is in the non-profit sector. Non-profits are required by law to have a set of bylaws, which are guiding principles for the management of the organization. The same is true for corporations and many other organizations.

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The bylaws or handbook describe how the organization runs, how it is organized, and may include policies and procedures for the organization. It describes the responsibilities of leaders and the various levels, the responsibilities of members, and may describe the steps necessary to becoming a leader.

Best practices dictate that these documents be in place, readily accessible, and followed. The law also has something to say about this. Whether it is a handbook or a set of bylaws, an organization needs to have some written principles to guide its operations. The bylaws should be available to anyone with a vested interest in the operation of the organization.

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The leader is expected to set the standards: he or she must understand and follow the bylaws. He or she should take the lead in respecting the bylaws and encouraging others to do the same.

And if a leader at any level consistently ignores the bylaws, he or she should be removed from his or her position. Through methods described in the bylaws, of course. Failure to enforce the rules leads to confusion and catastrophe.

A good citizen is aware that our Founding Documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution contain the bylaws for the leaders of the nation. We have not outgrown these documents, nor can I remember a vote by the citizens to do away with them. Is it unreasonable to expect our leaders to follow them?

A good leader knows the rules, and does his or her best to play by the rules.

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Your Leadership Compass

I am of the opinion that the presidential election process goes on far too long. But that is not the topic of these posts.

As I listened to the discussions about the “debates,” it occurred to me that there are two questions I would like to ask each candidate. First: “Who are you?” “Do you have a sense of identity?” “What is it that makes you tick?” “Who is the real you?” And second, “Do you understand and intend to support and live by the bylaws of the organization (i.e. the Constitution of the United States of America)?” “How have you demonstrated that support up to this moment?”

Since these are two very distinct topics, I propose to address them separately. This will deal with first questions. The second, To Form a More Perfect Union?, will follow in the next few days.

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A good leader has a sense of identity. That identity is a rock-solid foundation for the leader’s thoughts and actions.

Skilled mariners, both in sea and in sky, learn to chart a course using map and compass and other important instruments. They learn to find true north to guide them in their journey, and they learn to rely on other landmarks as well.

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In a similar fashion, a leader should know how to find his way, even in the midst of storms and chaos. If a leader has no sense of his true direction, he will be unable to chart a course that will lead his organization to safety. Without that sense of direction, he will simply be at the mercy of the winds and currents, driven by external forces.

In a ship, this loss of direction usually leads to disaster. It is no different in an organization that has lost its way.

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If a leader wants to be able to guide his team through the storms that organizations and businesses will inevitably encounter, he must have a true north, an undeviating set of principles and values to direct him. When times are tough, the leader’s internal compass or GPS must be able to detect that true north consistently.

This holds true for all leaders, whether they are leading a small business, a large corporation, a volunteer organization, family, or a nation. It is impossible to stand firm if one does not know where he stands. True leadership must begin with a firm, reliable foundation.

So I would ask each of the presidential candidates to give me a straight answer. What are the undeviating principles that you have built your life on? Can you define them? Are you true to them? Will you continue to be true to them?

My guess is that few of them can give a direct answer to such questions. If that is the case, they are unfit to lead on any level. If one cannot provide a straight answer to questions about character, it would be unrealistic to expect straight leadership.

A good leader has a fixed, constant guiding star, and knows how to navigate by it.

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