Jos Misner writing for the Huffington Post says we ought to be raising up leaders that have specific qualities to carry us into the years ahead. Qualities not embraced by leaders of the past who by definition were figures of authority and power placed in strategic positions to control people. He lists personality traits and characteristics that all leaders ought to have, and I agree with him. I also want to suggest though that it these qualities in leaders will help us move the social justice argument forward.
The following list is ascribed to leaders in general but I want to add that the personal attributes he highlights not only make for good leadership they are imperative in any leadership role where social injustices are being challenged. The qualities are important in leading others in the cause as well as empowering those who experience social exclusion. I really like his list a lot:
Empathy – The ability to become aware of the thoughts, opinions and feelings of others, as well as to be able to identify with them.
Vulnerability – The ability to remain accountable, accurately assess one’s limits and seek out help when needed.
Humility – The drive to serve others through leadership and to offer up credit to others when credit is due.
Work-Life Balance – While giving one’s life to work was once admirable, today we know that maintaining a solid work-life balance is critical to mental and emotional well-being.
Inclusiveness – The desire to gain others’ perspectives and to make decisions based on the good of the group, rather than the individual alone.
Patience – The greatest leaders do not need it all, nor do they need it now. They are visionary and willing to invest time and energy to achieve a long-term set of goals.
I would add that leading others in the ways of social justice requires:
❑ that we feel emotions strongly
❑ are able to excite and motivate others
❑ are undeterred by the influence of more charismatic leaders than ourselves
I am concerned at the rate which inequalities, poverty, prejudice and oppression are growing. These elements of society are the dominant reality for billions of people in our global village. In this environment good leadership (a leadership under a new paradigm) and social justice are critical to creating solutions to social injustices. Leadership in this cause requires courage and commitment, the ability to work collaboratively across cultures to be more effective agents of social justice.
“If you are neutral in situations of
injustice, you have chosen the side
of the oppressor. If an elephant
has its foot on the tail of a mouse
and you say that you are neutral,
the mouse will not appreciate your
– Desmond Tutu