All the attention of the current US presidential electioning has me reflecting on what is good leadership and is leadership aptitude enough or are there other factors?
I got to thinking about leaders I admire. Obviously I do not know these leaders personally, however, they are all leaders I’ve taken a keen interest in and followed their lives to varying degrees over the years. In this short, mini-series, I reflect on what appear to be factors that molded them as good, even great leaders. Leaders who the world is better for them having led. Leaders who finished (or are finishing) well. I may follow it with reflections on a few leaders the world may have been better without.
I invite you to join by sharing your own stories of leaders you admire and also by adding your reflections to my thoughts.
Desmond Tutu (aka The Arch)
– Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town
Desmond Tutu was born in South Africa in a time when it wasn’t easy to be black. He chose a life as an Anglican minister and became the first black Archbishop of Cape Town. This was at a time when even the church was segregated. It would’ve been easy to become either bitter with anger or arrogant at his success, but he did neither. It would also have been easy protect the privilege of his position by avoiding controversial issues.
Desmond has a wife and four children and he chose to be true to his calling as a prophet – as one who speaks truth and holds those in leadership to account. The end result was a Nobel prize, but the cost of that prize were years of being misquoted and maligned in the press. Death threats – even people phoning his home and letting his young daughter know that they are going to kill her father. He remained strong and true, eventually leading South Africa through the Truth and Reconciliation process. A process globally recognised as revolutionary in its power to heal. Many sat back and watched as the Apartheid government was replaced by a fully democratically elected black government and wondered if he would have the same courage to speak truth and hold this government accountable. He didn’t even miss a beat, but continues to play a pivotal truth speaking role in South Africa and globally.
As I reflect on “The Arch” (as he is affectionately known) I see a man having to choosing again and again to do the hard thing because it is what he is called to do.
A man with a deep faith and a deep dependence on God that is his strength. A man who refused to be chained by bigots or by anger but who channelled his anger (with forgiveness) to stand for truth, justice and reconciliation.