[September 14, 2022] It has been written repeatedly among those who study great leaders that one of their most sought-after characteristics is to unite people for a common cause. Such a rare capability is desirable in the obvious but requires great strength of courage, broad experience, and wisdom. To unite is the epitome of greatness.
“Divide and rule, the politician cries; unite and lead is the watchword of the wise.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Of course, there are many examples throughout written history that demonstrate that people can be united in a cause that is catastrophic and even perhaps evil. Causes that inspire can be either good or bad. But to rally folks to something that is good requires extraordinary effort and extreme skill in a leader. As such it is indeed rare to find it any leader.
Those folks who unite people for a common cause are sought after for their talent and the results they produce. As we watch the societal debates in any country, it is interesting to see who is attempting to unite and who is trying to divide people.
For example Socialism (and all forms of Marxism), beautifully sounding at the emotional level, is inherently about dividing society and pitting one against another. Along with its variants, Socialism is an ideology based on the idea that people are oppressed, and the most robust way to ensure victory for them is to unite and rebel against those at the top. Historically it has failed and caused unimaginable death and misery (see my notes on Socialism here and here).
If we observe leaders in our community and nation, we can educate ourselves in those who are talking about bringing people together and making a better place versus those who speak of pitting one segment of society against another. Students of leadership would do themselves a favor by watching any of the most recent social debates and speeches to see who desires uniting people or not.
We all must possess the ability to unit people for a common (and good) cause. Even when we lack the ability to bring people together, it is imperative that we consciously embrace the ideas of unity and work hard to improve that trait in ourselves and others. Otherwise, failure awaits. Great leaders are distinguished from all others by this characteristic alone.
Please read my new book, “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” on Amazon (link here).