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Leadership is Everyone's Business..including reporters.

Posted Oct 22 2008 9:30pm

In his wonderful book, Let Your Life Speak, Parker Palmer describes the natural existence of leadership in his life. He says,

“…for better or for worse, I lead by word and deed simply because I am here doing what I do. If you are also here, doing what you do, then you also exercise leadership of some sort.”

He expresses in such a simple and profound way both the opportunity and the responsibility we all share to lead. Reading it I was reminded of the expression I first heard in graduate school (in a sports psychology class of all places): “You are always influencing”. We influence with what we say and what we don’t say. We influence with our presence and also with our absence. This expression has taken on profound meaning during my parenting years. I would have loved a free pass from influencing from time to time. But, as Palmer so beautiful expresses, we lead by word and deed, every word, every deed. There is no exception. When I consider that reality I have a new empathy for those who are on the campaign trail and new frustration with the media that follow them and interpret their words and deeds for us. I wouldn’t relish a reporter following me around interpreting, and all to often judging, how I handle issues that come up with my teenagers. Would you?

As Palmer underscores, we are all influencers. The primary in New Hampshire had several examples of the great influence of the media. I was struck by their lack of accountability and their willingness to wield their influence without the accompanying sense of responsibility. Like the political leaders they cover, they lead by word and deed “simply by doing what they do” yet I don’t see them held to the same level of accountability.

We will all need to make a choice about which candidate we support to lead us forward and I for one will be measuring them against the 5 practices. However, I plan to filter the abundance of information out there with compassion. I also hope to pursue information from sources that recognize their responsibility and accountability and their potential to influence.

The decision that faces us this year will impact the future of our nation and the world for years to come. Each of us can influence the soundness of that decision. I advocate that we hold the media to the same standards and level of scrutiny to which we hold ourselves, and our political leaders. I advocate that we demand they act as leaders as well. Do you agree? And if so, how do we do that? How can we best say,  leadership is everyone's business, including yours.

posted by
Beth High

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