What does leadership mean to you?
What does political leadership mean to you? 

These are questions that the Honolulu Chinese Jaycees (HCJ) discussed and had a presentation with Representative Karl Rhoads at their General Membership Meeting held this past August.  Before, I touch upon some of the words that Representative Rhoads imparted with us let me disclose the following:

  1. I recently joined the Honolulu Chinese Jaycees;
  2. I was Representative Karl Rhoads Committee Clerk for the past two sessions;
  3. I am not registered with either major political party in America; and
  4. I like discussing leadership issues, as it plays into entrepreneurship, change management, and the like for business matters.

As to the evenings discussion, I just wanted to impart one of the more interesting things that Representative Rhoads spoke about. It was actually a response to my initial question, which was: we constantly hear that we want government to be more like business and that its leaders should operate as such, do you agree/disagree? 

Representative Rhoads responded thoughtfully, and said there are some things that political leaders could learn from business and they way it operates, but that the system that businesses operate under is different from the political side, in terms of the legislature.  He reminded us that as one representative out of many, while he may serve as a representative and type of leader to his constituency that there are also representatives (as well as senators) that all have a voice in the process.  However, he did return to this theme that I have seen in all my leadership classes is listen first.  Especially, in politics communication is key and learning from others helps you lead by example, execute your ideals, etc . . . I think this is something that business and political leaders can always do better. Listen.

I think one of the more insightful comments he made was that we all have a preconceived notion of what a leader looks like and what they do and that legislating does require a different skill set for effectiveness than those traditional notions. A legislator really does not order troops, set out five policy points, or set agendas, as I said they are one of many.  The interesting thing is that many of them rise to leadership postions in the executive branch. In addition, it’s interesting to note that even on the judicial side judges sometimes start out as a head of an agency or a commission.

So what do you think about leadership and management? What should political leaders take from business? Should businesses try to formulate around a checks and balances approach, and would that turn into good governance for sustainable or social benefit corporations?

What do you think?

By the way if you are in Honolulu and are interested in networking, growth as a leader, and doing civic projects please consider joining the Honolulu Chinese Jaycees. It is a great organization and one of its signature events that it sponsors is coming up: the Meadow Gold Healthy Baby Contest.