Leadership Qualities that are Essential for the State and the Nation
by Todd I. Selig
With several short weeks remaining running up to county, state, and national general elections on November 6th, citizens of New Hampshire have important choices to make concerning which candidates they believe will most successfully represent them to lead the state and the country into the future. Whatever the office, leadership counts.
Harry Truman once wrote, "Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better."
Our collective challenge, then, is to identify those individuals on the ballot who possess the requisite qualities of leadership to move our state and our nation forward on a productive course. As residents ponder who to support this November, they might consider the following.
Leaders lead with their values. They possess integrity and effectively articulate what they believe to be right so that we may understand their vision and view of the world.
Leaders are data driven. They seek to comprehend complex, multi-faceted problems. They use facts to inform their recommended solutions. They offer objective information to substantiate their views.
Leaders listen. They consider differing perspectives and weigh the merits of these in crafting policies and solutions to address societal challenges.
Leaders define success. They establish goals and continuously work to improve external and internal policies and processes to attain them.
Leaders work hard and are committed. Being in the right place at the right time is good, but success on behalf of citizens takes work. Consistent with their values, leaders do what it takes to reach desired ends.
Leaders build trust, and trust and honor others. They develop meaningful relationships allowing them to accomplish important initiatives and to productively work through conflict when inevitable disagreement arises.
Leaders practice tough love. They talk about what is needed to improve the lives of the citizens they serve. They hold people accountable to clearly established goals. They don’t blame others. They offer a path to the future and build consensus around it.
Leaders possess mental toughness and resilience during difficult times. They remain calm, composed, and committed to their values. Crises and emotional issues come and go, yet a leader takes these in stride and keeps a cool head.
Leaders have the courage to show weakness and admit mistakes. “I’m sorry, I was wrong.” are five powerful words. Once an error in course is acknowledged, a new path is chartered utilizing lessons learned.
Leaders keep their eye on the bottom line on behalf of citizens. Yet even under difficult financial pressures, they make strategic investments to improve upon the effectiveness of the organization.
Leaders keep it simple. They know they succeed when the citizens they serve succeed.
The N.H. Secretary of State’s Office (http://sos.nh.gov/2012ElectionInfo.aspx), the League of Women Voters of N.H. (http://www.lwvnh.org/index.html), and many local newspapers have good, nonpartisan information available concerning the upcoming elections. Talk to candidates. Review their literature and web sites. Take advantage of opportunities to learn more about the individuals who have put their names forward for public office.
Our counties, our state, and our nation require leadership to navigate economic and societal challenges. Regardless of political affiliation, individuals with the capacity for leadership can help us weather a challenging economic and social time toward fair winds and following seas.
About the author:
Originally from Laconia, Todd I. Selig resides with his wife and two daughters in Durham, New Hampshire. Mr. Selig has served as Durham Town Administrator since 2001. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Syracuse University, Mr. Selig went on to complete a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of New Hampshire. He has served in a variety of positions within both the municipal and school sectors including positions in Raymond, Laconia, New Boston, Hopkinton, and now Durham, NH. In 2003, Todd Selig was awarded the Caroline Gross Fellowship allowing him to attend the Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He was named as one of New Hampshire’s “40 Under Forty” by The Union Leader in 2005. Mr. Selig has previously served as chair of the board of directors for the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies and as a trustee and vice-chair of the board of PRIMEX (N.H. Public Risk Management Exchange). He is a member of the International City/County Management Association, a member of the New Hampshire Municipal Managers’ Association, and a member of the Durham Historical Society.