Recently, the U.S. presidential election dominated the airwaves. With the U.S. being such an influential country, the whole world paid close attention to its election. In Korea, the 18th presidential election is quickly approaching. Many phases to this year’s presidential election - from the announcements of candidacy by three candidates to the issue of the unification of two candidates and the election itself - have caught peoples’ attention. In November, the University of Seoul (UOS) Student Council presidential election also took place. All this presidential election talk has brought the matter of ‘leadership’ to the forefront.
Leadership is the ability to rule a crowd. Specifically, leadership is the ability to hold people together for a common cause and to cultivate faith in them. This definition of a leader and leadership is agreed upon by most. However, the fundamental qualifications that constitute a leader differ from person to person. What people generally consider being among the qualifications of a leader are confidence, self-sacrifice, fairness, vision and so much more. Should a leader have all these qualifications? The answer is no. The ideal qualifications of a leader differ depending on specific situations and the respective people involved.
Through a personal experience I had a month ago, I came to believe that the most fundamental quality of a leader is the ability to remain calm. There was a crisis at The UOS Times recently. As university students have started to learn English through institutes or through English mediums such as The New York Times or the BBC and as students’ English levels improved, more and more students stopped reading our magazine. A couple of years ago, university English magazines, including our own, started to lose their identity; the purpose of their existence. The UOS Times was established when English contents were much scarcer and having it set partly as the purpose of its existence, determining a new purpose a couple of decades later was not easy. We have been publishing our magazines without exactly knowing what our purpose was. All of a sudden, the president of the UOS asked the question; what is the purpose of The UOS Times? I could not answer so I panicked. I started to have doubts about the existence of The UOS Times. The doubts were expressed on my face and our reporters saw it. Of course, the reporters and I eventually figured out the purpose of our existence: to inform foreign students about the UOS and Korea and provide all UOS students with interesting materials to read in English. However, after this problem was solved, I regretted having expressed my doubts. Because of my skepticism, all of the other reporters were afraid that The UOS Times would vanish.
In the book ‘Inspiring Leadership’ by John Adair, it is said that during hard times, a leader must remain calm inside. When followers are worried, they look at the expression on their leader’s face. It is said that if a leader’s face that is neither tense nor upset, it has an effect of calming down those around them. Of course, a leader is also a human so he or she does get tense and upset. However, a leader must have the ability to control oneself to control others. A face that conceals danger or anger lets a leader eliminate confusion in an emergency and to focus on the problem at hand.
I have shared with you what I think are the most important characteristics of a leader. We are in a crucial time of choosing the leader of our country; let us take some time to consider what the most important characteristics of a good leader are. Everyone will judge whether or not someone is a good leader by their own personal standards. What are your standards?