We all know this presidential election cycle is unprecedented. I won’t enumerate the reasons for it. I’m sure you have your favorite ones. Among other factors, I find it unprecedented because of the sensation I have had about it until last week. I had been comfortably numb!
Unlike other elections where I had been a passive voter, easily picking who I thought was a better candidate without much thought, this time I was paralyzed. Beyond passive. Just numb. I found myself closing my browser tabs and turning off my TV in utter exasperation and disgust. Many times I joked about it and pretended it was a new comedy show in bad taste.
It all changed last week. It changed when I sensed an eerie silence around me when in social gatherings people refused to engage in election talk; at work people could not brooke a joke on the election; on Linked In you heard crickets if you said something remotely political. We couldn’t speak. Not surprising when even objective journalists found themselves gasping at flagrant inconsistencies and illogic in the party-line from campaigns. I saw journalists agonizing over when to challenge vs. back off to provide listeners an objective view. Still the business leaders stayed silent.
Silent not just on who to back or what their position on issues were, but on what criteria to use to guide one’s decision-making. Silence prevailed from social media influencers (perhaps all were wise than me). But if this election is unprecedented how can we be silent and passive as usual? How can we watch intelligent, consciencious voters muddle through a barrage of hearsay and bias and semi-factoids?
Should business leaders air their views on elections and candidates? Of course, not for a candidate per se. Why not argue for sound public policy, argue for strong leadership, or voice criteria we should use to evaluate candidates and parties? Crickets sang out loud on all those fronts. And I found myself getting beyond comfortably numb. Needing to stay sane amidst the babel of voices, I decided that I needed a framework to base my decision. A framework to evaluate a leader since I view the presidency of the USA as being first and foremost about leadership.
I went back to basics and looked at what I thought highly in leaders and remembered my article from three years ago. A post titled “Leadership Blues” on the 3Cs of leadership: Curiosity, Compassion, and Collaboration.
3Cs of Leadership
Call it temperament, EQ, self-awareness, or any of your favorite yardstick for leadership, we need some criteria for decision-making when faced with a confusing landscape such as this year’s. Hence, I am gravitating back to the 3Cs. The extent to which people have possessed these qualities or acquired them seem to have made leaders like Lincoln, King, and Mandela effective and inspirational.
While I’m troubled by the choices us chickens are left with, this is not a new phenomenon. Democracies have suffered from this problem forever. In fact some would cynically say a country gets the candidates it deserves. If so, we deserve candidates that split us on racial, gender, and economic lines?
Not to be cynical, my voting decisions this year, as someone who thinks America isgreat and is a fine experiment in being humanely correct, will be based on the 3C’s — choices based on the extent to which I think candidates possesses the 3C’s.
To silencing the crickets!