Welcome to the Leadership Almanac

Gary Winters

It's All About Leadership

Creator of the Popular

The national debate over health care reform is bringing out the best – and the worst – in political leadership.

It’s not surprising that Americans increasingly distrust their leaders. What is often called “loyal opposition” is engaged in a calculated attempt to use the health care issue as a way to derail the President and cripple his administration. For many so-called leaders, the use of name-calling, fear-mongering, and outright deception is considered an acceptable way to lead the public.

A disclaimer: I voted for Barack Obama and I support most of the proposals he has put forth to reform health care.

That said, I welcome a real dialogue about alternatives which could help us reach true reform. These have been woefully few and far between.

Instead, the “loyal opposition” has determined that it must say no to nearly everything that is proposed by the party which happens to be in power, which happens to have been elected on a platform of sweeping change. They offer few proposals of their own.

Screaming about so-called Death Panels, killing Grandma, and a socialist agenda is not positive leadership.

It is effective, however. The polls indicate that more Americans are shifting their support and Mr. Obama’s job approval ratings are on the decline.

I dunno. Perhaps that’s okay with some people. I want to support positive leaders (on either side of the aisle, in the political arena).  I want to be proud of the people who are charged with making critical decisions that affect all Americans. I have voted for Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, when their proposals and plans seemed to put forth a positive change for our country.

But the “debate” over health care has saddened and sickened me. It seems that we’re headed for a lowest common denominator solution that will offend no one, and probably fail to correct what’s wrong with our health care system. It’s a shame.

What are the lessons that can be learned from this spectacle?

I suppose one could conclude that leading from fear works. At least in the short term. But I would hope that by the end of this process, we’ll be able to see that leading with a positive vision is the superior stance. As I look back at the history of America, I see countless examples of vision trumping fear, beginning with the vision of a free and independent country.

I agree with you.

It should be a given that in this great land, health care is affordable for all. I did not say health care should be free or created by taxing one economic group to pay for another. We already have too much socialism in our nation.

But your topic is on leadership and we live in a time where often it is absent on many levels, not just in politics.

Our President is still learning to be President and yet, he is not leading. He makes pronouncements and then walks away. What he needs to do is say in no uncertain terms that regardless of party, he needs particular consensus. He should work on that consensus by taking what he can get now. Later he can try again for more after the dust settles. That is what successful Presidents have done in the past.

If I was he, I would have approached this issue differently. I would be actively working with both sides in the same room as often as necessary and not get into pointing fingers. I would take what I could get through since anything should be considered an improvement. I may not get the best package of laws, but it would be the best that could be obtained through consensus. That’s leadership. Leaders don’t always obtain victory, but they do get things done.

If our President doesn’t stop pronouncing and start leading, he is going to lose the Independents. I’ll be one of them. I won’t say he’s like the super-wimp Jimmy Carter was, but he’s not like Reagan or even Kennedy either. Yet, he has a chance to be like the latter two, if he can find that leadership kernel within him.


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