Rethinking leadership

Hillary Rodham Clinton, the USA State Secretary visits Armenia soon. I’d like to share a parallel that her visit, actually her persona recalled in my memory. Before becoming the highest-ranking cabinet secretary, before running for the mantle of presumptive nominee for the Democratic Party in US presidential campaign of 2008, before two terms as a Senator from New York, she was the First Lady of the United States.

The First Lady Hillary will remain to me a leader who took an unprecedented decision exposing the true meaning of human values, a leader, sensitive to interests of her society and family. She is a leader, who gave a lesson to the entire world and human history for how to act when our family and society face a crisis and when the loved one of our hearth and the leader of our nation is in the hearth of the crisis. With all mixed outrage and sorrow, courage and love, shiver and disgrace the burden of your decision critical both for your family and for your country. In this situation have been thousands of royal consorts and millions of spouses throughout history, yet very few have made faithful decision. I believe that the very moment of taking her decision to save her family thus saving the reputation of the nation’s leader and the prestige of the nation became Hillary’s moment of truth, the moment when this unprecedented leader was baptized. Her early political development and young activism were simply a prelude to this moment. As a result, today United States have not only a skilled and experienced head of state department but first and foremost a trusted and reliable leader. In the beginning of the 21st century USA has a leadership for the bad times, a leadership for times of crisis, people of America have Hillary Rodham Clinton.

I recalled to this story on the eve of Hillary’s visit to Armenia, as I again and again ask myself a question: what type of leadership Armenian society needs this days of financial, economic but first and foremost political crisis? Obviously, Armenian authorities and political leaders do not meet the expectations of common people who are fairly dissatisfied and disappointed in government after government for the second decade of independence. However, do Armenian public opinion leaders and civil society recognize that Armenian governments, which deserve disappointment and dissatisfaction so frequently, are the part of our society and of our Armenia’s past, present and future. What is the decision that Armenian civil society leaders take facing outrage and sorrow, courage and love, shiver and disgrace? What are the choices in this really Shakespearean drama? Either to impeach the government and request a “divorce”, surrender? Or to take the painful path of adaptive leadership looking beyond the very problem, to pave a way for transformation of political culture in the country and to take the responsibility?

I see that the most civil society and political leaders take the first choice. Yet, there are some other leaders and institutions that take different choices. While equally suffering from today’s political reality, and instead of crying of grief and hate, they overcome their own disappointment and dissatisfaction for the sake of better future. They recognize that Armenia is another family where the love has persisted for decades. It is very difficult and unpopular to be cooperative and adaptive living among the confrontative majority. It is even more difficult to you see those who share your values engaged in confrontation, as those who only criticize are not able to bear responsibility and lead. Yet, it is painful twice when being blamed for cooperation and leadership.

The fruit of family values grows slowly. Yet, is there alternative for real transformation? The values target long run and deeper changes and it is worth to nurture those values. I shall only hope that more and more institutions and leaders will take the responsibility for change and will make harder but faithful decisions. Hillary Rodham Clinton who used to bear heavy burden of responsibility and to make hard decisions is arriving soon. Her visit is a good occasion for all of us to rethink our choices.

And as she said once: “No one understands me better!”