True Statesmen (and Women)

What makes a great leader or a true stateman? I think just about everybody would agree that somewhere in the mix, there must be courage. A willingness to face the slings and arrows, in order to chart a course they truly believe in. A willingness to pay a great professional and/or personal price to do the right thing. Truly great leaders often demonstrate great humility. One comment from Nelson Mandela stuck in my mind when he was in conversation with Oprah. She had asked him what had caused him to renounce violence as a way to achieve his political ends. He said something like

“Twenty seven years(in gaol) is a long time to think.”

It takes a humble man or woman to admit their past mistakes and to learn from them.It also takes great integrity. One of the qualities which demonstrates a great leader to me, is genuine humility- an ability to admit past mistakes and to demonstrate they have learned from them. Great leaders also have the courage to do what is right, regardless of the effects on their own personal popularity. Great leaders walk with those they lead, suffer with them and sacrifice for them.

I applaud politicians and leaders of true courage(past, present and future), ready to stand up for what they believe, regardless of the personal and professional cost. Too often motives are about personal gain and success, instead of values like personal sacrifice, justice and just plain doing the right thing.