Lead­ers need fol­low­ers

The Covington News - - THE SECOND OPINION - To find out more about Jackie Gingrich-Cush­man, and read features by other Cre­ators Syn­di­cate writ­ers and car­toon­ists, visit cre­ators.com.

The pas­sage in Ruth 1:16 high­lights what it means to be­long: “Wher­ever you go, I will go; wher­ever you live, I will live. Your peo­ple will be my peo­ple, and your God my God.”

This was Ruth’s re­sponse when her mother-in-law Naomi sug­gested she go back to her own peo­ple af­ter the death of her hus­band, Naomi’s son. But Ruth was de­ter­mined to stay, to be with Naomi.

In a broader con­text of groups and lead­ers, Ericka An­der­son, au­thor of the new book “Lead­ing So Peo­ple Will Fol­low,” de­scribes great busi­ness lead­ers we are drawn to fol­low.

“We are drawn to lead­ers who ar­tic­u­late a pos­si­ble fu­ture in a way that speaks to us and in­cludes us. Far­sighted lead­ers use their clar­ity of vi­sion and their ar­tic­u­la­tion of a suc­cess­ful fu­ture to pull peo­ple out of fear or short­sight­ed­ness and into hope­ful­ness and a sense of pur­pose.

“Peo­ple want lead­ers who look be­yond to­day... They look to the leader to ar­tic­u­late, in a com­pelling way, a clear and pos­i­tive fu­ture state to­ward which they can di­rect their ef­forts. When lead­ers fo­cus only on the cur­rent cri­sis or this quar­ter’s num­bers, it seems to us that they’re more in­ter­ested in main­tain­ing the sta­tus quo or pro­tect­ing them­selves than in cre­at­ing a suc­cess­ful fu­ture.”

“A truly far­sighted leader, en­vi­sions a pos­si­ble fu­ture that re­sponds to and res­onates with peo­ple’s as­pi­ra­tions for their in­di­vid­ual and col­lec­tive success,” she said. “When em­ploy­ees or po­ten­tial em­ploy­ees hear about the good leader’s vi­sion, their vis­ceral re­sponse is, ‘Yes, I want to go there, too.’”

In the fi­nal count, more Amer­i­cans voted to go with Pres­i­dent Barack Obama than with Repub­li­can nom­i­nee Mitt Rom­ney. This was an elec­tion that, given the state of the econ­omy, the Repub­li­cans should have won.

In the most sim­plis­tic form, what hap­pened was that the Repub­li­can Party led and not enough peo­ple fol­lowed.

A CNN/ORC poll pro­vides a win­dow into what might have gone wrong: The Demo­cratic Party re­ceived the most fa­vor­able rat­ing (51 per­cent) and low­est un­fa­vor­able rat­ing (41 per­cent).

The Repub­li­can Party re­ceived a 39 per­cent fa­vor­able ver­sus a 53 per­cent un­fa­vor­able, while the tea party re­sults were 32 per­cent un­fa­vor­able, 50 per­cent un­fa­vor­able (1,023 sam­ple, Nov. 16-18, plus or mi­nus 3 per­cent­age points).

The fa­vor­a­bil­ity gap be­tween the Demo­cratic Party and the Repub­li­can Party is 12 points. Rom­ney re­ceived a much greater per­cent­age of the vote than the Repub­li­can fa­vor­a­bil­ity rat­ing alone would have pre­dicted.

Why are Democrats rated more fa­vor­ably? Democrats have been much more com­pe­tent at ap­peal­ing to vot­ers’ emo­tions, at com­mu­ni­cat­ing that they care. The truth is that Repub­li­cans care, too; they just don’t wear their hearts on their sleeves, nor do they com­mu­ni­cate well that they care.

Democrats pos­ture them­selves as ready to do busi­ness, while some Repub­li­cans shout out their un­yield­ing po­si­tion.

Let’s take the “no new taxes” pledge as an exam- ple. While “no new taxes” is ap­pro­pri­ate at the vi­sion level, does it work at the tac­ti­cal level? Pol­i­tics is suc­cess­ful only if it re­sults in im­ple­mented pol­icy; the rest is for naught. Since both sides have to ne­go­ti­ate to get a bud­get passed and im­ple­mented, is it smart tac­ti­cally to say to the other side, “I’m just not will­ing to ne­go­ti­ate” on this, that or the other?

Would it make more sense to en­ter the ne­go­ti­a­tion with ev­ery­thing on the ta­ble, but in the end agree only to what fits our val­ues?

Repub­li­cans have been so busy hold­ing a hard-line stance that they ap­pear in­tol­er­ant to most Amer­i­cans. Mean­while, Obama has been talk­ing about a “fair share” and “balanced” ap­proach to the fis­cal cri­sis.

You de­cide who is win­ning the com­mu­ni­ca­tion bat­tle.

Repub­li­cans need to com­mu­ni­cate a com­pelling vi­sion in or­der to win the hearts, minds and votes of the Amer­i­can peo­ple. This vi­sion needs to be invit­ing to oth­ers, not off-putting or of­fen­sive.

This vi­sion would pro­vide a frame­work for the tac­tics. Will oth­ers want to fol­low us? Only if the party of­fers a com­pelling vi­sion, one that is in­clu­sive and invit­ing. At ev­ery pos­si­ble point, the ques­tion should be: Are we ar­tic­u­lat­ing a vi­sion that peo­ple will hear and re­spond to?

In the end, it’s not enough to have the right poli­cies or the right mo­ral val­ues. It comes down to who wants to go with you. If no one goes with you, you can­not win.

JACKIE CUSH­MAN COLUM­NIST

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