Are there personal traits that someone might have that can bring us, Americans, closer?  For some stupid reason we have as a nation behaved like rivals.  Our public discourse has been coarsening and it has lowered the threshold for acting out, being rude, being unkind.  Is that who we are deep inside or are we more evolved, or are we both?  We can choose by deciding which one we feed.  If it only takes a bully pulpit for someone to expose us for who we really are, then we need to be very careful who we give the bully pulpit.

We have become gullible.  If we identify as red then we more easily believe the negative we hear and read about the blue and the positive about the red.  The blue have the same gullibility.

We have become all or nothing politically and while The United States of America is the world’s most dominant economic and military power with the best hospitals and universities, and with its cultural imprint spanning the world, led in large part by its popular culture expressed in music, movies and television, other countries are happier and healthier.

Ranking of the Top 10 Countries in the World, Best Countries Report, U.S. News & World Report based on being seen as a stable and safe society in which individuals can develop and prosper, and is open, fair and equitable:

1. Canada
2. Japan
3. Germany
4. Switzerland
5. Australia
6. United States
7. New Zealand
8. United Kingdom
9. Sweden
10. Netherlands

So, who is going to bring us together and stop the petty bickering that ignores so much that we have in common and want?  Let’s look at traits.

Our leader should have these eleven traits:

  1. Empathy

The ability to experience things from someone else’s perspective is a key component of emotional intelligence.

  1. Value solitude

Finding fulfillment in your own company can suggest intelligence; people with greater intelligence feel less satisfied with life when they spend more time socializing with friends.

  1. Have a strong sense of self

Knowing what you need from your interactions is just one part of self-awareness.

  1. Always want to know more 

Simple explanations are not enough. You enjoy reading, art, and exploring other languages and cultures.

  1. Observe and remember

Noticing what happens around you suggests intelligence.

  1. Have good body memory 

Magic Johnson could see how plays were going to unfold more quickly than most others.

  1. Can handle the challenges life tosses at you

Adaptability is a key component of intelligence.

  1. Have a knack for keeping the peace 

Peacemaking skills indicate intelligence.

  1. Tend to worry about things

Worrying, in basic terms, equates to preparing.

  1. Good at managing your emotions

The way you handle those emotions can say a lot about your emotional intelligence.

  1. Have a pet

Pet ownership appears to have a positive impact on mental health for many people.

Leadership Strengths

Our leader needs to provide moral courage to avoid temptations found in competitive environments. Management style, charisma, personal integrity and business acumen are not enough. 

Our leader must purify the motives behind decisions, understand who they are and what they are here to do.  Mark Twain has said that “a man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.”

Our leader will not merely look out only for themselves and instead seek what is best for the many faces of America.

Our leader would not try to enforce our rules of respect onto other cultures. Our leader would know what counts as respect can vary from one culture to another.

Our leader would be aware that all of us are created with certain inalienable Rights and understand this s is the most influential moral notion of the past two centuries and refers to minimal conditions of human decency.

Our leader will continue to develop individual character and individual character in others and understand that good persons will make good decisions—a concept first developed by Plato and Aristotle and an integral part of Jesuit tradition.

Our leader would be virtuous and work with interest and desire to help others, have creative spiritual ambition, calmness, courage, an unconquerable attitude, tolerance, patience, and peace. 

Our leader would not have doubt, mental fatigue, indifference, boredom, fear, restlessness, timidity, mental and physical laziness, overindulge in anything, an unmethodical life, lack of interest, or lack of creative initiative.

Our leader will have ethical habits and go about their day doing things out of habit without thinking about ethics.  This is how it should be once our habits become ethical.

Our leader will have developed values in moments when they were at peace and unburdened with eminent decisions and problems and will refer to those more purely developed and written values before making decisions.

Our leader will understand what leaders of the best technology companies have understood and that chasing gross revenue is inferior to chasing technical contributions to the world.

Our leader understands what Albert Einstein said– “Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.”   I think this is powerful.  Accomplish it and you become the flame instead of the moth.

Our leader agrees with Dr. Wayne Dyer where in his book, The Power of Intention, he tells us that it is hard to feel worthy if we are always looking out for number one. 

Our leader understands we are like magnets that attract or repel positive or negative energy. Generally, people will come to us not because of what we do, but because of who we are.  Our leader will look around and notice who they are attracting and not attracting.  “One can have no greater mastery than mastery of oneself”—Leonardo da Vinci.

Our leader shall have integrity.  Clarence C. Walton, in his The Moral Manager, says that personal character is one of the keys to higher ethical standards in business.  “People of integrity produce organizations with integrity.  When they do, they become moral managers—those special people who make organizations and societies better.”

Einstein agrees:  “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” Sometimes, we gain more if we are able to give up our stubborn thought limitations.

Our leader will reason globally and as stated earlier, care about relationships, human rights, human dignity, equal treatment, freedom of expression, and as Lincoln included in his Gettysburg Address, mans’ inalienable rights.

There are two categories of people:  The first are those who could never bring themselves to subjugate their egoistic needs to the greater ambition of building something larger and more lasting than themselves.  Work will always be about what they get i.e. fame, fortune, power and not what they build.  The second are those who have the potential to rise to become great leaders/supervisors. 

Jim Collins, author of Built to Last and Good to Great

Our leader shares the traits Jim Collins tells us the personal traits great leaders, the most successful leaders, all share.

  • They have personal humility.
  • They demonstrate a compelling modesty, shunning public adulation and are never boastful.
  • They act with quiet, calm determination, relying principally on inspired standards, not inspiring charisma, to motivate.
  • They let the company be ambitious not themselves.  They set up their successors for even greater success instead of doing anything that would make themselves missed.
  • When talking about success they will look out the window and talk about luck, external factors, and apportion credit to others and not look in the mirror.  When talking about problems they look in the mirror and take responsibility.
  • These great leaders were described as spiritual people.

Maslow picked out a group of people whom he felt clearly met the standard of what he called self-actualized.  Included in this group were Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jane Adams, William James, Albert Schweitzer, Benedict Spinoza, and Alduous Huxley, plus 12 unnamed people who were alive at the time Maslow did his research. He developed a list of qualities that seemed characteristic of these people.

These people could differentiate what is fake and dishonest from what is real and genuine.  They treated life’s difficulties as problems demanding solutions, not as personal troubles to be railed at or surrendered to.  And they felt that the ends don’t necessarily justify the means–the journey was often more important than the destination.

Maslow’s self-actualizers enjoyed solitude, were comfortable being alone, enjoyed deeper personal relations with a few close friends and family members, rather than more shallow relationships with many people.

They enjoyed autonomy and were not susceptible to social pressure to be well adjusted or to fit in.  They preferred to joke at their own expense or at the human condition instead of directing their humor at others.  They had a quality he called acceptance of self and others.   This same acceptance applied to their attitudes towards themselves.

They enjoyed their personal quirks if they were not harmful and they were motivated to change negative qualities in themselves that could be changed. They preferred being themselves rather than being pretentious or artificial.  They had a sense of humility and respect towards others, were open to ethnic and individual variety, even treasuring it.

They had a quality Maslow called human kinship accompanied by strong ethics, which was spiritual but seldom conventionally religious in nature.  They tended to see ordinary things with wonder and from this were creative, inventive, and original.  And, finally, these people tended to have more experiences that made them feel very tiny, or very large, to some extent one with life or nature or God.

These people were not this way all the time so they still had some work to do at their soul level.  For example, while they were not neurotic, some did experience anxiety and guilt and some were absentminded and overly kind and some experienced unexpected moments of ruthlessness, surgical coldness, and loss of humor.

Maslow made another point about these self-actualizers that I consider very major and in fact are at the heart of this book:  Their values were natural and seemed to flow effortlessly from their personalities.  Maslow also defined self-actualizers by identifying their needs in order to be happy.  Here is his list.

  1. Truth,
  2. Goodness
  3. Beauty
  4. Unity
  5. Aliveness
  6. Uniqueness
  7. Perfection and necessity
  8. Completion
  9. Justice and order
  10. Simplicity.
  11. Richness
  12. Effortlessness
  13. Playfulness
  14. Self-sufficiency
  15. Meaningfulness

Maslow believes that much of the what is wrong with the world comes down to the fact that very few people really are interested in these values — not because they are bad people, but because they haven’t even had their basic needs taken care of and, when forced to live without these values, the self-actualizer develops depression, despair, disgust, alienation, and a degree of cynicism.