Jim Palermo: In search of inspirational leaders

Published: 6/12/2019 7:00:24 PM

The trajectory of a charismatic leader is ultimately identical to that of a mortar shell. It begins with a powerful burst of energy, sufficient to propel followers to great heights, but doomed to decline rapidly from its apex, crashing with destructive power, often inflicting pain on those standing nearby.

Whether the charismatic leader is a CEO, a religious leader, or a politician, they are propelled by making promises and setting goals that are impossible to attain, but which are kept aloft by the power of their ability to enthrall, entertain and exhort. For a relatively brief period, their enterprises flourish, but ultimately they will crash.

With this perspective, I am wary of charismatic political candidates, promising the proverbial “chicken in every pot” through the alchemy of their personal leadership and vision. The truth is that there are no simple answers to the myriad problems that threaten our existence: global warming; worldwide income inequality; discrimination and intolerance, to name a few.

It is, therefore, no surprise that I am not attracted to candidates who have a “plan” that they claim will make us all happy. Rather, I am attracted to inspirational candidates, whose intelligence, experience and decency motivate us to work together, make sacrifices and be unrelenting in the difficult process of “rolling the bolder up the mountain.”

I am looking for a candidate who will inspire us to demand that our government’s ability to govern will be restored. I want a candidate who will inspire us to refuse to tolerate political bosses, whose gatekeeping when determining what bills will be put up for a vote, are the puppets of special interest groups.

What I want is an inspirational candidate who will engage us in restoring the process of good governance, eschewing blind loyalty to the interests of a party, rather than being loyal to the preservation of democracy.

Charismatic leaders have allegiance only to their own agendas. Inspirational leaders invite us to join with them in recognizing there are no quick fixes. Inspirational leaders motivate us to join them in the unglamorous work of providing a process to ameliorate the myriad problems that are inherent in any organic enterprise, and for which there likely are no permanent solutions.

Jim Palermo


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