As we look around at our world leaders today we find a lot of commentary citing the long list of their inadequacies – inadequacies that go beyond political or media rhetoric. It would be fair to say that on the whole we are pretty underwhelmed by the quality of leader apparently on offer.
Which leads me to question why we are struggling so much to find, or recognise, high quality leadership. Has the standard of leadership fallen or has the bar been raised? And if it has been raised what are the criteria that we now use to measure leadership?
For sure the realities of the 24/7 newsfeed, constant visibility, incessant monitoring of performance and so on all mean that any human frailties are exposed very quickly and very publicly. But is it reasonable to ask our leaders, no matter how significant or large the office they hold, to be perfect? To never make a mistake, a misjudgement or to not know?
Clearly the more sizable the role – world leader for example, or CEO of a global £multimillion corporation employing tens of thousands of people, or a religious leader – the more we are right to expect, to demand, a higher standard of knowledge, intellect, experience and performance. But what else? What really defines a leader in our world today and arguably for all time?
For me we should be looking to very fundamental attributes. Great morals, integrity of values with behaviours that match, a capability to show love and compassion, a real wisdom coupled with enough humility to know when they need help and support. And a quality of vision and aspiration that dares to believe in a better world for everyone coupled with a commitment to serve that vision with every fibre of their being.
Now we’re talking real leadership and a real bar against which to be held accountable.