usa-presidential-electionsIsn’t it embarrassing? The United States of America are about to elect their 45th President and we’re all getting a free lesson in leadership. Can you imagine that you have a choice between two candidates who polarize your population and, as it seems, the rest of the world.

What kind of choice is one actually supposed to make? Male versus female? White versus White? 70 versus 69 years old? Private versus public career etc.? Actually, in my opinion, it should be a choice, amongst others, between their personal track record, their vision, their beliefs, their ability to lead and inspire others and above all their ability and willingness to unite people of all walks of life.

What we have witnessed though is an election campaign that resembles the World Championships Mud Wrestling. How low can you go as individuals and how low can you go as a country? There’s some serious reputational damage being inflicted in the name of democracy and free speech.

Whoever is going to win the election has an enormous task to re-unite the country and its people. Personally I don’t envy the winner, whoever it might be.

What the campaign has primarily taught me is that whatever you do in life and whoever you think you are, the final judgment lies with others. What do they think of your achievements and behavior? Do you get the thumbs up or thumbs down?

I also learned that facts don’t seem to play a role at all in making a choice. Personal credibility on the other hand is certainly an issue. The electorate themselves says that it is looking for a trustworthy political leader! Someone who keeps his or her promises! Isn’t that a bit naïve or am I becoming cynical now?

The key issue though is how can the 45th President re-unite a country that is so divided and where the issues are so diverse ranging from wealth, gender, race, religion, security, personal safety, education, environment, employment etc. It’s clear to me that the President Elect can never make any progress without the support of others. Hence the fact that compromises need to be struck, deals need to be done and promises will be broken.

But the drive to re-unite a totally divided population first of all requires a common cause, a vision to shape the future. Isn’t this the same that we see with private or public enterprises? Without a common cause, a shared set of norms and values, beliefs and above all a willingness to play an active role in achieving something great nothing will happen. Making your dreams come true, not at all costs or for the sake of winning, requires an ability to listen to others, to care for more than just your own interests and above all it requires perseverance and humility to accept criticism, personal courage to change your point of view and your own behavior.

Easier said than done of course. Can it be done at all? That’s the question that remains to be answered in the USA next week. It certainly requires a new generation of leaders. So let’s look for leadership that can take us to the future instead of providing us with choices and demons from the past.

-Wim Dufourné