Be a Catalyst – not a Firestarter

 It’s an election year, and if you’ve heard any political debates or sound bites at all, you’ve probably noticed that discourse at the local, state and national levels is extremely negative. Mud is flying everywhere! It’s coming from the right and from the left. They’re hitting opposite sides, the middle and even their own side.

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Civility in Leadership

It’s an election year, and if you’ve heard any political debates or sound bites at all, you’ve probably noticed that discourse at the local, state and national levels is extremely negative. Mud is flying everywhere! It’s coming from the right and from the left. They’re hitting opposite sides, the middle and even their own side.

Is this why young people get involved in leadership? The mud-slinging?

No – young people get involved because they have a passion, or are looking for a passion, on which they can lead. You’ll never hear a young, passionate leader explain that they chose to get engaged because they love the idea of trashing someone in the media, or in the comment section of the Union Tribune, or on twitter.

Think about any leadership training you might have had in the past. One of the first things that usually takes place is a brainstorm session where everyone in the room gives one word they feel describes a leader. Words like “honest,” “respectful” and “compassionate” will definitely come up. Words you don’t hear in these exercises are, “misleading,” “inconsiderate” or “hostile.”

Let’s not spoil ourselves as future leaders by taking the low road and doing absolutely anything to win a position, or an issue, or even a sale. Leadership has nothing to do with how well you can attack your opponent with negativity or half-truths. Let’s show young future leaders that politics and activism are about engaging your opponents and supporters with facts and civilized discourse.

Because at the end of the day, we all want our leaders to approach their decision points with facts and civility. Whether young or old, running for office or while in office, fighting for workers’ rights or business rights. We should never forget those single words that define leadership.

 

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Tammy Lin
Immigration Attorney, Prins Asylum Attorney, Jewish Family Service of San Diego

Tammy Lin is the immigration attorney for Jewish Family Service of San Diego’s Prins Asylum Program providing pro bono representation to scientists, musicians, artists, scholars, and professionals seeking...