Of Love and Warts

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By James Decker

Recently, I’ve noticed a few high profile instances of so-called leaders in the country exhibiting a hallmark leadership failure: refusing to accept responsibility. Whether casting blame on subordinates or using the excuse of outside forces and the acts of other agencies, it’s all the same: alleged leaders who are tasked with responsibility refuse to accept the responsibility when it becomes unpleasant.

President Harry S. Truman famously kept a sign on his desk in the White House’s Oval Office that said “The Buck Stops Here.” President Truman used this sign to signal the reality of his leadership position: ultimately, when a decision rose to his level, there was no other person to make the decision or accept the responsibility. It was all on him, win, lose, or draw. Human nature encourages us to accept our position of leadership when things are good (read: take the credit) but look for ways to minimize our leadership when things are bad (read: avoid the blame), but true leadership requires acceptance of responsibility for both good and bad. So it goes in rural leadership roles as well. Our decisions in rural leadership roles may not carry the worldwide gravity of President Truman’s decisions, but our decisions still have consequences.

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