One of the things that we talked about in class last week was how Congressman Raskins book, Unthinkable, is told in a leaderly way. I can fully agree that Jamie’s book is told in a leaderly way. I feel this way because within the preface you can see his leaderly way of storytelling through making you feel how personal the issue is to Jamie. While reading the story, it felt like I was close friends with the Raskins and have been for such time. I say this because of the level of personal writing which takes place in the book. It really helps me relate to him and his family’s pain. Another way that Jamie tells his story is through the form of grief. I say this because when Jamie was writing and telling his story you can feel this pain and suffering that he was going through daily based on his words in the book. He was definitely in a repeat mode. I think Jamie was channeling his grief for his son Tommy and his love for our fractured country which translated into his writing. By doing so, this connected me as the reader to him, his family and the grief they are experiencing. I really appreciate his honesty, openness and candor about what he and his family were experiencing at that time. I could feel their pain. Another example of how Jamie told his story in a leaderly way is how an aspect of his storytelling involves informing others about certain issues. I personally like this style because when Jamie is talking about how his first bill in the Maryland State Senate was the National Popular Vote Act, he then discusses in detail what the specific bill would do and the results of what would happen in the future if states signed onto it and implemented it.
When I think of leadership and Jamie’s style, it is in total contrast to the caste style of leadership described by Wilkerson. For example, when I think of Kim Jong-un of North Korea, he is indeed a dictator. He uses threats and terror as a way of enforcement. There are other countries in which caste systems exist such as India and Germany, and persons are divided for many reasons whether it has to do with their origins, social or economic status. One way to not lead is in a mindset of superiority vs inferiority. I believe that some of the leadership skills that we develop are learned while some are inherent, meaning that we develop the life essence of loved ones. People who have influenced our lives. For me, I think of my grandparents and my parents. My parents have influenced me to an extent as to the skills needed to be a leader and how to treat others if you expect them to follow you. While my parents took different career paths, some of the skills they possess are similar and some are different. I’ve been able to use that to my advantage as I develop my own skills.
My mother is an example. She is a leader professionally in her position at the State Department of Education. She manages a staff of 21 persons, is part of Senior Executive Leadership and is held accountable for deliverables. We’ve shared many conversations about expectations, leading a team when resources are scarce, keeping your team motivated and cohesive. This played a major factor in her day to day work especially during the pandemic when some of her staff developed COVID and could not work. In her spare time, she is a member of several organizations that mostly focus on helping those that are less fortunate and working to provide opportunities and scholarships for students seeking to advance themselves and pursue a college education. Several traits that I’ve observed about my mom’s leadership style is to be honest, fair, communicate effectively and treat people the way you want to be treated. I watch her conduct her meetings, plan a variety of events and manage difficult situations from time to time. In watching her she knows how to navigate and get people to follow her and buy into the concepts and initiatives. I’ve learned from her how to always be prepared, be timely and think about how decisions you make will impact the entire organization or the larger scale.
My father has held various leadership positions. He has a legal background and has worked in law enforcement. While he and my mom have taken different paths career wise, he also is a stickler for being prepared, being on time and treating people fairly. In his current role, he is leading a department in a town that has faced racial injustices and has to spend time focusing on changing culture and mindsets.
When I think of mindset, mentoring comes to mind. Mentoring is a critical component of growth and development for any person. I believe we should all have mentors and also be a mentor to others. For me, and having watched my parents, it is a civic and community responsibility. My mom always talks about Black women leaders and the people who have paved the way for women of today to achieve and attain what they have professionally and personally. She then talks about her duty and responsibility to help other women of color achieve their goals and afford them opportunities to grow and develop. I’ve had a variety of mentors throughout my life and still have mentors which influence me today. Whether it was a family member, a teacher or a coach, they have all impacted me and helped me to build the necessary skills needed to succeed and learn to cope with situations.
I was a cub scout in elementary school and then became a Boy Scout. When I was younger, I really enjoyed being a cub scout and liked our various activities. As I grew older I became a Boy Scout and as you know you have to work to attain ranks to advance yourself. Part of scouting is not only learning new skills but a strong focus on leadership development. There came a time when I was ready to quit and not complete the path to Eagle Scout. My mom, dad and other family members talked to me about this. However, it was one of my scout leaders who invested time in me sharing why I needed to complete scouts, earn the rank of Eagle and where this would take me in life. At first, I didn’t quite believe it or see beyond my troop and all the things I was being asked to do. But, I took a break from scouts and then returned with a new attitude and completed what I started many years ago. While I may not agree with all recent decisions made around Boy Scouts, I attribute my completion and attaining my rank of Eagle Scout to the mentoring I received from one of my troop leaders. Had he not seen something in me and taken the time to know and understand where I was at that point in my life, I may not have completed my program. He invested in me and I will in turn share and help others coming behind me. To me, it’s what we are called to do. We should never be too busy to help someone else.
My final thoughts are on that of the electoral college. The electoral college by definition is the group of presidential electors required by the Constitution to form every four years for the sole purpose of electing the president and vice president of the United States. Each state appoints electors pursuant to the methods described by its legislature, equal in number to its congressional delegation. The votes are tallied and the highest number attained is the person named President of the United States. Personally, I do not agree with this process as I feel it is unfair. I believe that every vote cast should be counted. The total aggregate is what should determine who the winner is. When Trump ran, he did not have the aggregate total of votes to win, however, he had the electoral college votes to win. That is how we got stuck with him. When that occurred it made me rethink the process, the unfairness of the process and that it needs to change. I’m not sure if this would take a constitutional change but it needs to occur. With more gerrymandering and redistricting, combined with republican shenanigans the process needs to be assessed and a new system developed. The electoral college should be eliminated and the popular vote should be used. Raskin discusses this in his book and I totally agree with this mindset. If we could ever agree to do this, and I hope we will sooner rather than later, I do believe elections might be looked upon differently. I say that because some people choose not to vote because they think their vote doesn’t really count. By using the popular vote, every vote counts and we may see more voter turnout for key elections. It will definitely create a new way for us as Americans to look at voting and our presidential elections for years to come and change the face of history in this aspect, which is long overdue.