In the days following former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s announcement that she will not be seeking the GOP nomination, I fell back on my MBA training from University of Phoenix Online. When dealing with political leaders everyone tends to focus on party and ideology, but virtually no one applies the principles of leadership theory. A solid understanding of Gov. Palin as a leader – totally divorced from the politics of left and right – is essential to aligning with her mission and strategies moving forward.
I have always written that Gov. Palin is a Transformational Leader, which includes Charismatic Leadership as a sub-component. Continued leadership contingent upon results and self-sacrifice are core behaviors of Transformational Leaders. These leaders also tend to move on once they have effected change; a Transactional Leader comes in behind them to maintain the new status quo. Kreitner and Kinicki’s Organizational Behavior is a standard textbook used in MBA courses and discusses this leadership style at great length. US Air Force Colonel Mark Homrig provides a solid primer on Transformational Leadership for free and it is a must-read to understanding how Gov. Palin leads, and the brave new world she is leading us in.
Gov. Palin is also a Servant Leader to the core, for she has all 10 characteristics: listening, empathy, healing, self-awareness/objective ego, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and building community. Providentially, her first and married names define none other than Servant Leadership. Sarah means “princess” in Hebrew. Palin means “servant” in Welsh. Princess Servant. Servant Leader. You can learn more about Servant Leadership in Larry Spears’ Reflections on Leadership: How Robert K. Greenleaf’s Theory of Servant-Leadership Influenced Today’s Top Management Thinkers.
Titles, Making Differences, and Hierarchies
Gov. Palin has said numerous times since resigning her governorship “you don’t need a title to make a difference.” She has proven the statement true over these past two years. Even so, Gov. Palin’s announcement that she will not seek the 2012 GOP nomination broke many hearts and left many minds bewildered. While some dismiss this reaction as “childish,” it’s human nature. In an MBA paper I wrote that even new leadership methods such as self-directed teams are little more than hierarchies in disguise. In any human endeavor involving a group or organized effort, there can only be one leader. Even grassroots groups have leaders and hierarchies, sometimes morphing into machine bureaucracies.
We place stock in official titles, because those with legitimate power can request certain behaviors of others and are vested with the authority to undertake specific actions. The difference Gov. Palin can make as a private citizen is – well – different from the difference she can make as President of the United States. The conventional way of thinking cannot accept the difference she can make as a private citizen.
In Branded: The Underpinning of Support, I wrote:
In the hands of the wrong person, even the right message can be disastrously implemented. In these times, mediocrity does not cut it. We need a strong leader. We need a standard bearer. The person does matter.
Judgment and discernment by definition cannot be programmed. You see, some qualities are completely apolitical and cannot be mechanized. Few people possess even one of them, much less all of them. These qualities are: integrity; leadership by example; keeping promises; executive experience; command experience; life experience; judgment; the right combination of toughness and sweetness; accomplishments; fortitude; the ability to keep confidences; a proven and vetted track record of success; a proven ability to withstand media scrutiny; people person; and impeccable character that inspires confidence and commands respect. Add to that list: proving to the world that a woman can do anything a man can do – and in many cases, do it better.
These qualities are about the person and Gov. Palin possesses every last one of them. That’s what makes her the kind of leader you see only once in 75 – 150 years.
Nearly all dedicated Palinistas agree that the current field of Republican candidates is completely unsatisfactory. Why? There is no leader among them and none are worthy of the job. None of the 2012 candidates has even one of the qualities Gov. Palin possesses, much less all of them. This knowledge drives things like the Earthquake Movement and talk about drafting and write-in.
You Can’t Solve Current Problems with Current Thinking…
If we are Gov. Palin’s supporters, accepting that you don’t need a title to make a difference is part of what we signed up for. We cannot consider ourselves her supporters and not accept this. Since we also know there can only be one leader in any human endeavor and we have been supporting Gov. Palin for over three years running, she is our leader. She may not be President of the United States, and may not be running – in the conventional sense of the term – but she is our Private Citizen President. We look to her for leadership and inspiration.
If we take her October 5 announcement in isolation and at face value, Gov. Palin remains our Private Citizen President. Nothing has changed.
One of my respected colleagues, Josh Painter presented a theory about the factors that could have driven Gov. Palin to not seek the 2012 GOP nomination. More specifically, Painter delineates precisely how and why Gov. Palin “running” – in the conventional way – could have been been a kamikaze mission for her. The GOP establishment was pulling chicanery with leapfrogging primaries among other skullduggery specifically to disadvantage Gov. Palin and favor RINOs like Mitt Romney.
Gov. Palin declining to seek the 2012 GOP nomination was not for lack of support. We’ve been egging her on for three years. She has received a huge volume of mail each day, much of it asking her to run, starting the night Obama was elected. Nor is money the issue. Some supporters started saving money in coin jars, shoe boxes and piggy banks three years ago. Many would not even donate to SarahPAC. They wanted the money to go to her campaign. Team Sarah has a large sub-group dedicated to campaign donation savings.
Gov. Palin also said numerous times over these past three years that any campaign she runs would be unconventional – to the point that many supporters would be uncomfortable with it. She has been consistent in saying this, and she has referenced an unconventional campaign nearly every time the subject arose.
Consider the following: in her announcement of October 5th, Gov. Palin never said “I am not running for President.” Read the transcript and listen to the audio. Gov Palin said she is not seeking the 2012 GOP nomination. I can parse words just like the old master himself. It could all depend on what the meaning of “is” is.
In Lynchburg, VA, Gov. Palin said she could not understand supporters who trust her “to be the leader of the free world, but who do not trust in her decision at this time.” In Seoul, Gov. Palin said it was time for a woman to be President of the United States. I hardly think Michele Bachmann is the woman she referred to.
Could Gov. Palin’s October 5 announcement have marked the beginning of the unconventional campaign about which she has spoken so many times? Could my heart-break at her announcement have been because the announcement went right over my head – along with everyone else’s? My original headline appeared to indicate such. If so, it would be my best heart-break ever. Could Gov. Palin already be doing the very thing that people are trying to Earthquake her into doing?
Guerrillas defeated the British Redcoats to found our republic. Guerrillas fight unconventional wars. They also fight clandestine wars. Could Gov. Palin be running a clandestine unconventional campaign the likes of which have never been seen in US history?
I would be highly irresponsible to suggest as fact that Gov. Palin is currently running unconventionally for President. I would be blindly foolish to dismiss the clear signs suggesting the possibility. This is why “glassing the field” – picking up the binoculars and slinging the rifle – makes most sense. Sometimes, slow and steady wins the race.
Only Gov. Palin, Todd, God, and maybe her closest staff know what she’s doing. Given the mortal enemies in her own party and its inability to abide by its own rules, best it’s left that way.
Where She Leads…
“It is essential to understand that battles are primarily won in the hearts of men. Men respond to leadership in a most remarkable way and once you have won his heart, he will follow you anywhere.”
Gov. Palin could remain our Private Citizen President or she could have already begun an unconventional campaign to run for President. Either way, she is leading us into a brave new world.
Her dedicated supporters have responded to her leadership in a most remarkable way.
Gov. Palin has won our hearts…
…Where she leads, we shall follow.