The Destiny of Leadership

by Mike Swetnam

Put two hundred people in a room and watch what happens over time. Groups and cliques will form. Bullies will emerge. Most will fade back and wait for someone to take charge and bring order.

When a leader emerges, most will automatically follow in the very human hope that the leader will bring security through direction and purpose.

Looking for, following, and needing a leader is a very human trait; most of us want someone to follow. We want a goal, direction, and a strong message.

Leaders provide that direction, unifying message, and ideology. Leaders help us find a sense of purpose, direction, and focus. Leaders and followers are as human as the DNA that defines who we are.

Without leaders, lawlessness, anarchy, and despair run rampant. These are conditions that define leaderless societies.

The world we live in is comprised of roughly 200 nations that reflect all of the human emotions, desires, failures, and hopes of the individuals that live in them. Nations look for and need leadership just as much as individuals do. The lack of world leadership results in the worst of human failings, amplified on the world stage.

Wars, oppression, genocide, crime, and terrorism all result from the lack of strong and enlightened world leadership.

Today more than ever, the world is crying out for leadership. Societies who have been failed by their governments often turn back to the fundamentals of religion, mysticism, and even the tribal and feudal ways of our past. When stability is needed today, people often look back to something that worked in the past as a solution.

Throughout nature and human history, the strongest was seen as the leader.  Peace and security can be secured through strength. Once again, it is human nature to look to the strong and the inspirational as the leader. To be followed and supported.

Since World War II, the strongest and most inspirational nation has been the United States. Not only did we win the World Wars, but we rebuilt all of Europe and Japan, and we maintained our military presence (boots on the ground) in their nations as a protecting force.  Even today, 60 years later, US forces are deployed to Japan and most European countries as a protecting force.

We, the US, also established regional leadership forums like NATO to ensure stability and security. We formed the UN and hosted it in the US as a sign of our commitment to world self governance. All of these actions are the expression of enlightened leadership.

We followed these accomplishments with noble adventures to go to the moon and back. We invented technology like modern communications, the Internet, and modern air transportation. These are all feats that define leadership.

It should be no surprise that the best and the brightest want to come here. Many aspire to US education, US jobs and association with US companies, affiliations with US organizations, and favorable trade and relations with the US.

We have been seen and appreciated by the entire world as the world’s leading superpower. Clearly for the last 25 years, since the collapse of the USSR, but in reality since the end of WWII.

In a room with two hundred in it, we are the strongest by far. We are the best educated. The one most countries and individuals want to be associated with. Like it or not, we are the world’s leader.

In this figural room, there are of course bad actors. Nations or groups who envy us. Ones who hate us, just as all leaders face a few adversaries who will always hate them for being the leader.

There are also bullies who will attempt to coerce others into subservience. There are fanatical extremists who will try to convince others that their radical approach to governance is correct. There are also many who just want the leader to help find peace, security, enlightenment, and freedom.

The leader can only fulfill his responsibilities as the leader if he ensures the security and freedoms of all the others. He must stop the bullies in their tracks. To do this, he must isolate and neutralize the extremist. In short, the leaders must lead not just with words, but with action.

Like it or not, the USA is the world’s leader. Lately, we have disappointed the many who want and need us to lead.

It is time we live up to our destiny.

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