Leading up to recent years, being a woman in a position of power was found few and far between. However, advances in social behavior have allowed leaders such as Hillary Clinton, Margret Thatcher and Germany’s Angela Merkel to blossom into the epitome of leadership. Serving as Germany’s chancellor since 2005, Merkel was not bestowed the honor of “Person of the Year” by Time Magazine because of her charisma, flair or decoration, but because of her commitment to the people she served and the data that allowed a nonpartisan approach to public issues. Most American leaders portrayed today lack the skill of “leading from behind”, which embodies the practice of granting subordinates the tools for success and supporting. It is a prime factor in a successful leader, following the most transcendent form of situational leadership, in the delegation of tasks and not the commonly found directing of them.
Merkel’s beliefs and values have played a major role in the direction of Germany as well, pushing out the toxic past of its former self and bringing in an age of humanity, patience and liberality. These beliefs, values and virtues are the foundation to what every leader must attain in order to form transformational leadership within their subordinates and hopefully, the country. The toxicity of Germany’s past has left a sour taste in the mouth of citizens looking for a change on how they are viewed globally.
Amidst these traits of sharing and caring for subordinates’ voice throughout the process, a leader must remain strong and resilient. Merkel has never been one to shy away from confrontation or hesitate to be the lone voice advocating for positive change. This can be seen as a positive or negative attribute, but strength in a leader gives strength in the following, in turn making a stronger nation. Merkel’s push for energy reform, economic stabilization and a minimum wage increase have made her popular among both the young and the old. Adding to the list of achievements in office the abolishment of conscription, the compulsory enlistment of state services into the armed forces, will reduce military personnel from 240,000 to what she is calling a much more professional and much fitter 140,000. Her support for family life offers these personnel child care services and flexible working hours.
Characteristics such as these have been trending in the liberal left, looking forward to strengthening relationships, creating trade agreements and removing embargos with countries that have long since been off limits. In looking towards the future, what are the most important leadership characteristics that will define not only that person or their administration, but the entire country? Merkel does a good job in embodying the traits that German citizens wish to portray to the world. However, like all well-meaning administrations, Merkel has a few tough eggs to crack. The far-right party, Alternative for Germany (AfD) have made it clear they want to follow the footsteps of the recently removed Brexit campaign. Looking towards the next election cycle, they promise to call for a vote to leave the European Union if nominated.
Is this a trend that we are seeing globally; A more liberal, global way of thinking about policy? Some believe its trending, only a short lived pipe dream that will revert back to strong, centered leaders that have only their constituent’s motives in mind, weakening relationships with those who have nothing to offer. Not only do they believe theories such as these, but they are in support of leaders who personify those characteristics. Yes, this world is becoming more and more intertwined, threading policy from one continent to another and back again, so how is it that leaders are willing to create a sense of isolation between these threads of agreement?
Be it strengthening the country you reside in, lifting those around you to become a stronger group or looking for the success in global affairs, one thing is for sure. Successful forms of leadership are found everywhere, internationally, in your city and within yourself.