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Of sincerity and leadership

July 26, 2008

Sincerity is generally understood to be truth in word and act, of truthfully about one’s feelings, thoughts, desires, intentions. One who means what he says is a sincere person. One who does not mean what he says is not a sincere man, and is perhaps even a hypocrite.

For those who occupy position of leadership and power, their very manner of speaking can define how their audience will receive, much less, and understand their message. Indeed sincerity is the virtue of speaking. Sincere expression carries risks to the speaker, since the ordinary screens used in everyday life are opened to the outside world. At the same time, we expect our friends, our lovers, our leaders “to be sincere”.

By ‘sincere’ we understand that the man acts according to his conscience. If he acts according to the dictates of his conscience, we accept his sincerity. In that case, he is sincere to himself. In society this is acceptable as sincerity, but this may be wrong. Suppose an administrator feels that according to his sincere conscience the underling has to be treated as a second-class citizen, he may be sincere but the world outside may not accept it. He may be sincere but his own conscience may be undeveloped. It is not enough to act according to the conscience; the conscience must also be cultured and noble.

It is not enough to be sincere, you must also be right. Extending this to the larger national sphere, leaders are rightly expected by the governed to have both conviction and abiding vision to advance the public good instead of being motivated by the need for self preservation and political expediency

History is replete with lessons about leaders whose false view of themselves led to the commission of outrages on the society.

The legacy such leaders harvest is ignominy.

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