Leadership Qualities: Esteem the Honourable.

Barack Obama speaks at Elijah Cummings’ funeral

Effective leaders understand that to esteem honourable acts is to challenge their team to strive for a higher standard – in performance, in productivity, in quality, and also in morality.

Imagine a mother raising her young sons and wrestling with the strong and persistent popular culture.  I remember one case where a young mother was at her wits end with her son who seemed to fight her at every turn, trying to assert his individuality.  In this instant he wanted to wear a Mohawk.  And, he came to me and told me that when he came home with it after a trip to the barber, she promptly took him back to have it removed.  After listening to his rant, I explained to him that his mother was someone who held authority and was esteemed by others.  Consequently, she and her family were also called to display the same high standard that she required of her team members.  So, some unconventional styles, albeit cool, were not the wisest choice for her son.  He heard.  He pondered.  And, he received it.  Years later, he has grown into a responsible young man following in his mother’s shoes, already bearing responsibility in unversity, work and community activities.  

Honorable, according to the Cambridge Dictionary means “honest and fair, or deserving praise and respect.”  It is also “a title used before the name of some government officials, and in the UK before the names of some people of high social rank” (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/honourable).  

So, when an honored elder in the community speaks we tend to ponder carefully what they have to say.  At the celebration service for the life of the Honorable Elijah Cummings, former President Barack Obama revealed his heartfelt response to the tribute given by the daughters of the beloved congressman.  He also shared insights from a father’s heart on advice given to his own daughters.

“I tell my daughters … being a strong man includes being kind, that there’s nothing weak about kindness and compassion.   There’s nothing weak about looking out for others.  There’s nothing weak about being honourable.  You’re not a sucker to have integrity and to treat others with respect.”

(Obama, 2019; 8:25:-9:35 mins.)

In a time when women’s rights to choose are celebrated around the world, hardly anyone would frown upon an elderly woman becoming pregnant and choosing to terminate the pregnancy for the obvious health risks posed to her and the baby.  However, older mothers are choosing to do the honorable thing when they find themselves unexpectedly pregnant.

 In a surprising case in China, a 67-year-old woman became the country’s oldest new mother after giving birth to a baby girl on Friday (Zhang, 2019).  This woman had already raised her family and was set to take life easy.  Both she and her husband were pensioners, and enjoying their retirement when she suddenly found herself pregnant.  There was strong opposition to her having another baby, even from the would-be siblings, and the youngest grandchild who is 18 years old and in college.  But, they chose to have their baby, deciding to name her Tianci, cherishing her as “given by God” (Zhang, 2019; http://www.msn.com/en-xl/asia/asia-top-stories/woman-67-becomes-chinas-oldest-new-mother-as-baby-girl-is-given-by-god-reports-say/ar-AAJsLuw?MSCC=1572273532&ocid=spartandhp#image=BBOZfUQ|29).  

No one knows what is in the potential of a person or a new beginning.  No one knew that at their earliest stages Apple, Samsung, Amazon, or Ikea would grow from an idea to become the global brands that they are today (Money Morning Paper, 2019; https://moneymorningpaper.com/first-products-famous-brands/10/).  But, the honorable among us will choose to acknowledge the effort and celebrate the journey.

So, never despise the day of small beginnings. You never know what lies ahead for you or for the one just starting out on the path.  Instead, be a source of encouragement and be prepared for anything!  Check out a book of the same title and more at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/KeishaAMitchellPhD .

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