The ultimate purpose of good governmental leadership is the partial or complete eradication of issues pertaining but not limited to public, economic, and environmental challenges that we face every day. Though many perceive governance and leadership to be interchangeable, a significant difference is present in the context in which the terms are used. Governance is the act of management and the hold of power. The enactment of law to face an issue at hand is an act of governance. Leadership, on the other hand, is the social influence which one party has over the people. It furthers the process of governance by not only enacting the law but also eliciting a response from the public. Leadership (whether good or bad) is only present when it is reciprocated with ‘followership’ in the community whereas governance is independent of public response. The course of good governance is to establish positive institutions to regulate the actions of the public by enforcing order wherever needed. However, the application, influence and the impact of such governance can only come about through good leadership. The first goal of superior leadership is essentially to do whatever it takes to improve the quality of living for the public. In such a government power must be used minimally and must be given up when the reign comes to an end because the purpose of good leadership is not the betterment of the leader but rather the betterment of the follower or in this case the public.
The Prince, by Niccolò Machiavelli, conveys the major requirement for any form of leadership to possess. Machiavelli, whose governmental philosophies are considered highly controversial, supplies a rational approach towards the perfect governmental leadership. Though Machiavelli focuses on the characteristics of a monarchy, the fundamental essence of his book can be applied towards leadership in any form of government. The main tenet of The Prince is that to remain in power, the leading party must avoid the hatred of the people. Such an assertion is ironic considering Machiavelli’s support of the utility of cruelty to enforce policies, but the use of cruelty or any technique for that matter should be used only so far that it does not compromise the long-term good will of the people and instigate aggression in the followers. The primary Machiavellian principle is that the leader must use all means necessary to accomplish his goal whether it requires the use of cruelty or merely kindness. However, never must the leader engender hatred amongst his people.
The major flaw in Machiavelli’s ideology is the thinking that obtaining the goodwill of the people does not depend on the overall happiness of the populace which is essentially the very antithesis of good leadership. Public goodwill is a political instrument to ensure the stability of the prince’s reign. In my opinion, a leader must learn to prioritize morality and public satisfaction before self indulging in his power. Here is a logical way to approach good leadership that coalesces ideas of both Machiavelli’s and mine:
1.In order for there to be a leadership there must be a reciprocating followership.
2.Good leadership always aims to better public life and to eradicate poverty, lack of education, environmental problems, economic issues etc.
3.The stability of the good leadership rests on the goodwill of the people.
4.The goodwill of the people is essentially the overall happiness of the populace.
5.Therefore, the ultimate goal in any form of good leadership whether it be a democracy or a monarchy is to ensure the overall happiness of the populace.
This approach to leadership focuses on the elimination of corruption at all levels. When the goodwill of the populace is secure in all areas, the public satisfaction is ensured meaning that there is less need for corrupt acts such as bribery, stealing, polluting etc.
Good leadership is often best analyzed through an example of a single leader considering the word leadership itself connotates individuality. A paradigm of good leadership, Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus was a Roman consul and a farmer who essentially became the sole dictator of Rome twice, in 458 BC and 439 BC. Cincinnatus exhibited good leadership because he understood the workings of power when it was entrusted upon him. He knew when to utilize it and more importantly how to give up the power once his duty was fulfilled. Cincinnatus’s first term as a dictator began when Rome was menaced by the Aequi tribe from the east and the Voslcians from the South. Ravaged with panic, the Roman Senate pleaded with Cincinnatus to become sole dictator and lead the city to safety. He assented to the request and within sixteen days defeated the Aequi and the Voslcians. After he had fulfilled his duty Cincinnatus immediately resigned his absolute authority and went back to being a farmer noting in the process that the republic of Rome would be destroyed if he assumed sole dictatorship. This instantaneous resignation of absolute authority once the public welfare is ensured is a ideal example of good leadership.
Another way to look at leadership is to observe the microcosmic efforts made in the everyday community. Any individual who initiates a campaign to better everyday life of others demonstrates the characteristic traits of a leader. It is to be noted that the individual must work towards public welfare of others rather than personal gain. Leadership in a way must be considered a sacrifice; in the process of representing and catering to the wellbeing of the people, the leader must often give up his individual desires and essentially become selfless. A good example of such a trait being demonstrated is by Narayanan Krishnan who was originally an award-winning chef with a five-star hotel, short-listed for an elite job in Switzerland. However, during a quick family visit home before heading to Europe in 2002, Krishnan went to a temple in Madurai and saw an old man eating his own human waste for food. Deeply moved, Krishnan quit his job within the week and returned home for good, convinced of his new calling. Soon after, Krishnan founded his nonprofit organization, the Akshaya Trust in 2003. Now at age 29, he has served more than 1.2 million meals to India's homeless and destitute, mostly elderly people often abused and abandoned by their families. To financially support his endeavors, Krishnan uses the monthly rent he receives from a home his grandfather had given him and sleeps in Akshaya's modest kitchen with his few co-workers. By giving up his individualistic goals and assuming the responsibility of feeding the homeless, Krishnan exhibited good leadership traits. When he found something wrong with his surroundings, he had the initiative to make a difference which, when it comes down to it, is the biggest power of leadership. Through his actions, Krishnan has not only progressed towards the betterment of the people, but he has also set an example. He has paved a pathway in which others can follow.
Good leadership can be seen on diverse levels in a community therefore leadership is an acquired rather than an innate trait. The ultimate leadership involves three things:
1.Use of designated power efficiently
2.Emphasis and progress on the welfare of the people
3.The resignation of power when the leader’s duty is done
The explanations I have given thus far essentially outline a solid approach to good leadership and good leadership will lead to good governance. Whether in an individual level or a governmental level the fundamental goal of good leadership is to benefit the people.