Monday, 2 December 2013

(Glad I'm) Not a Kennedy

Conspiracy theories aside surrounding the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, there has been no more romanticised political leader than this popular figure of the free world (pre-Obama).  New Zealand female singer/songwriter Shona Laing had an unlikely hit with "(Glad I'm) Not a Kennedy", describing the tragedy that befell the dynamic leader, implications of his death and the future of democracy (more emphasis placed on the cost of freedom and peace for humanity and a civilised society).

It makes me think about how you define leadership.  Whether we're talking about heroic or distributed, leadership and what qualities of leadership are deemed important or effective for that matter, to encourage and empower people who look to you to lead.

9. Leadership (e.g. Faithful service progresses to leadership).
Gifted Pasifika students are seen as leaders once they have served faithfully in their church and family contexts. Once other members of the community or village have seen that they have served faithfully, expectations and obligations to lead follow. (Faaea-Semeatu, 2011).  

I think about the mantle of responsibility that being a leader brings.  In my own context as a Samoan, leadership is defined through service to others and a great leader is able to listen to sound advice, be an advocate for his or her people and be the conduit or agent for change.

O le ala ile pule ole tautua.  This is a well known Samoan adage that translates as "the pathway to leadership is through service.  John F. Kennedy was well on his way to strengthening the road to equality for African Americans in his great nation and for some this was not the pathway they envisioned America to walk.

In your own spaces, think about how you lead and if you act as the advocate for your people and become the conduit or agent for change.  Leadership is not about power, it is about being able to stand up in adverse times and situations that test your character and may even shake you to your inner core.
I'm glad I'm not a Kennedy, but I will take from John F. Kennedy, his passion for social justice and the ability to make decisions that although for some are unpopular or take them out of their comfort zone, but allow their fellow man to experience empathy by walking in another man's shoes.