You know it. I know it. Even if you haven't really thought about it, you've probably sensed it. As our world sails into an ever worsening storm, there's nobody at the helm. Just when we need them most we find ourselves without real leaders.
Foreign Policy's Aaron David Miller contends that the leadership void reaches right into the White House. He asks whether America has reached "Peak President"? In a somewhat nihilistic approach, Miller argues that America is a nation that has moved beyond great leadership.
History, to be sure, is driven by the interaction between human agency and circumstance. Based on my own experiences in government and negotiations, individuals count greatly in this mix, particularly in matters of war, peace, and nation-building. Historian John Keegan made the stunning assertion that the story of much of the 20th century was a tale -- the biographies, really -- of six men: Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Churchill, FDR, and Mao. Wherever you stand on the issue of the individual's role in history, its impact must be factored into the equation, particularly when it comes to explaining turning points in a nation's history.
...Today we are consumed with leaders and leadership as the solution, if not the panacea, to just about everything that ails us. We admire the bold, transformational leader who seeks fundamental change, and value less the cautious transactor who negotiates, triangulates, and settles for less dramatic results. And we tend to forget too that great leaders almost always emerge in times of national crisis, trauma, and exigency, a risk we run if we hunger for the return of such leaders. Still, in Holy Grail-like pursuit, we search for some magic formula or key to try to understand what accounts for great leadership. Indeed, we seem nothing short of obsessed with the L-word.