Politics as usual.

February 15, 2009

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Senator Roland Burris blatantly lied to the people of Illinois in the interest of getting himself a senate seat.

In January, the Illinois House Impeachment Committee asked Sen. Burris specifically if he had spoken with Rod Blagojevich or any of his aides or contacts about the empty senate seat. Burris denied such contact, and he was given the senate seat.

On February 4th, Burris gave a sworn affadavit that he had spoken with the former Governor’s brother, Robert Blagojevich, about the empty seat.

Burris now says that he never had the chance to disclose this contact to the House Impeachment Committee.

As usual, a politician has lied to the American public and will face no real consequences for his actions.

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Series on Leadership Part 2 – Defining Characteristics

February 1, 2008

In Part 1, some questions were posed regarding what leadership is, what makes a good leader, and whether or not an individual can actually develop and improve their leadership skills (as opposed to a leader being ‘born’ rather than ‘made’).

In Part 2, I hope to move closer to defining leadership by taking a look at what characteristics and qualities make a good leader. Perhaps by listing and examining some of these qualities (which are often easy to observe), it will be easier to define the concept of leadership. As the Series on Leadership progresses, we will examine some of these traits in greater detail.

So what traits do excellent leaders usually possess? A fairly large amount of academic research work has been done on the subject, and most researchers agree on a few characteristics.

Daniel Goleman, author, researcher and co-chair of The Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligece in Organizations at Rutgers University, has identified five traits that are commonly noted in research papers on the subject of leadership. They include self awareness, self regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill. Broadly, I feel that a strong argument can be made that these traits are the basic necessities for good leaders.

This list, however, is very broad in definition and possibly lacks the clarity and detail necessary to truly define what constitutes each of these ideas. For example, what exactly constitutes empathy, and what qualities make someone who is ’empathetic’ different from someone who is not?

The list is also possibly lacking in other traits that may be crucial to the job of ‘leading’. ‘Trbpublising’ commented in yesterday’s post that critical thinking, along with the ability to communicate clearly and effectively, is an extremely important trait. I would tend to agree. Another is the ability to make quick, snap decisions – while it is important to be able to think things through in a logical, thought out sense, many front line leaders (especially in the military) would indicate that taking your time while making decisions is not always an option, so the ability to rapidly make good decisions is extremely important. The ability to motivate and inspire those around you is another trait that frequently makes the list.

It quickly becomes obvious that there is no real consensus on which traits are vital to good leadership and which are not. Now that we have a basic list of traits, over the next few weeks we will take a look at these traits in greater detail. Again, feel free to list traits, concepts, or ideas that you feel may add to our understanding of the topic.


Series on Leadership Part 1 – What is Leadership?

January 31, 2008

Over the next few months I hope to examine, and hopefully with the help of anyone reading, intend to come to a better understanding of leadership in the modern world.

Why examine leadership? Few issues permeate our daily lives to the extent of the concept of leadership. Everyone is certainly aware of the implications of the next presidential election… few would dispute that the country is in need of better leadership (including myself… I did, however, vote for Bush…twice). Leadership not only plays a part in government and politics, but also our daily lives, whether we work at a manufacturing plant, a school, a hospital, a law firm, or even McDonald’s.

We can all certainly point out bad leaders when we work under them or when we observe them from a distance… but can we use these observations to make ourselves better leaders? More importantly, can we even define what leadership is, or what characteristics make a good or effective leader? Is leading the same as managing? Does the type of leadership that is needed vary from situation to situation?

This is a place to begin to think about what leadership is, what effect it has on our lives, and what we can do to improve ourselves as leaders. Over the next few months I hope to gain a clearer understanding of the idea of ‘leadership’. As the series progresses, please feel free to post your thoughts on the subject.


What will you do with your $600?

January 24, 2008

Well, the deal of the century has almost been closed. Congress has moved one step closer to giving us back $600 that we gave to them earlier this year. Of course, this is part of the well publicized ’emergency economic stimulus package’ that the geniuses in our government have devised to help fix up our failing economy.

What will you do with your $600? That almost covers a new Playstation 3 plus tax. Or, you could spend it on some new work clothes. I guess it could cover a car payment or two for those of you with an auto loan. Or maybe it would be better spent by going out and getting hammered every night next week… I think that is exactly what Congress has been up to if they think that this will bail us out of this economic disaster that they have caused.

Here is an idea… write to your congressman (or woman) and ask him what exactly he is smoking. $600? That is a smack in the face. I don’t think the economy is hurting because the government over-billed us on our taxes last year by $600.

In any case, feel free to post what you will be spending your $600 on. Heck, if we buy enough PS3’s, maybe the problems in the housing market will disappear.