BILL CRAWFORD: Real leadership for real America

By Bill Crawford

Soon after Clifton Taulbert spoke to university and college leaders, Jerry Aull did the same for business and community leaders. These were two distinctly different speakers addressing two very different gatherings in Meridian about the same topic: leadership.
Taulbert, a Glen Allan native motivated by his experiences growing up as a young black man in the segregated Mississippi Delta, authored “Eight Habits of the Heart” and founded the Building Community Institute. Aull, an Indiana native and oldest of nine children, became one of the nation’s top motivational leadership consultants before rededicating his life to ministry and music.
Taulbert addressed the annual conclave of the Mississippi Association of Colleges and Universities. Aull addressed the annual meeting of the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation.
Both spoke of leadership as if it is supposed to pull people together and find common purpose. Neither advised attendees to lie and mislead, insult opponents, and win at all costs. Clearly, they know little about real leadership in real America.
Come on guys, pay attention. Real leaders bully and blast the other guy, or gal. They tear down, demonize, divide and conquer. They look out for number one, point fingers, and eagerly blame somebody else.
Haven’t you paid any attention to congressional races, here in Mississippi or elsewhere? Didn’t you watch the Wall Street barons or BP execs testify? Don’t you at least glance at the covers of the tabloids in the grocery stores?
Flip to Fox News, MSNBC, or CNN. Tune in to talk radio. Answer your robo call. Check your email. Tweet. Read one of those fund raising letters. The real world is telling you and us something radically different than what you’re telling us.
At least Stephen Covey had one thing right. The research underlying his leadership book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” showed the guiding trait of great American leaders up until 1950 was “character.” Since then that trait has given way to “personality.” In other words, it’s no longer what’s right or good that matters most, but how you appeal to others.
Street smarts. That’s what it takes in real America. Take off your rose tinted glasses and “wake up Amurica” because we’re at war! No, not just in Afghanistan and Iran.
We’re at war with each other. Conservatives war with liberals, incumbents with tea partiers, businesses with lawyers, players with owners, withs with withouts, churches with atheists, Islam, government, and each other. Any way we can divide up and choose sides, we’re for it!
So, Mr. Taulbert and Mr. Aull, your brotherhood and positive attitude stuff can take a leap. We’re gonna fight for our way of life – e pluribus unh-unh.
And pass the biscuits, please.

Bill Crawford is a syndicated columnist from Meridian His e-mail address is

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