[Viewpoint]Why leaders need strong beliefs

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[Viewpoint]Why leaders need strong beliefs

Anna Rowley is a consulting psychologist with an exclusive corporate contract with Microsoft. She has been working with executives and managers to improve leadership skills for 14 years.

She travels the world consulting with Microsoft employees, teaching communication techniques at work and seeking solutions to problems such as confrontation or friction with the boss.

In her recent publication, “Leadership Therapy: Inside the Mind of Microsoft,” she discusses what she has learned about leadership through detailed interviews with the talented employees of Microsoft. And she concluded that most problems stemmed from conflicts in beliefs, confidence, self-awareness, trust and power.

I often get to have the first look at recently published books, and what I’ve discovered is that America is indeed the best place for self development. Americans love words like “belief,” “confidence,” “improvement” and “achievement.”

Rowley’s work at Microsoft shows all these characteristics. Her role represents the belief in improvement and the will to pull all strings possible to enhance corporate efficiency and improve communication.

According to New York Times columnist David Brooks, the key to understanding American society lies in achievement-oriented ethics. His book, “On Paradise Drive: How We Live Now (And Always Have) in the Future Tense,” is a defense of America by an American.

He agrees that Americans are not profound or philosophical. He does not deny that Americans are moral hypocrites whose scope of interest is narrow and who only pay attention to materialistic comforts. However, he asks readers to look at the other side of America to see its true character.

In addition to superficial desires, there is a grand, complex and profound American idealism. Neither should we overlook the optimistic belief of Americans that all individuals have merit.

Just as the early settlers moved from Europe to America with a dream of utopia, America is a land of dreamers, and this ideal is the basis of motivation to constantly pursue something new. This book contains numerous appearances of the words “belief,” “ideal” and “pursuit.” After all, Brooks is an American.

Lee Iacocca, 84, is considered the hero of the automobile industry. Although he was born in Italy, what makes him an American is not just his career heading Ford and Chrysler. He is American in his belief that the United States is a land of opportunity where you can realize what you dream and work for.

He also evaluates leaders with the yardstick of “belief.” In his book “Where Have All the Leaders Gone?” he wrote that Ronald Reagan “had a strong conviction,” and Barack Obama has “charisma and conviction.”

In “The Audacity of Hope,” Barack Obama clearly stated what he believes in: the reasonable desires of ordinary people and trust in the value of sympathy. His mother taught him the simple principle behind the question, “How would you feel if someone did that to you?” This question that has guided his political career best explains his beliefs.

At its core, leadership is about conviction and communication. Conviction is especially important. Conviction greatly influences the leader’s world views and the decisions he makes.

This is why people want their leaders to clearly show their values and convictions. Through their leaders’ beliefs, people give meaning to their lives and dream of their children’s future. The United States has chosen change. Americans cast their votes for the values and convictions that Barack Obama believes in.

*The writer is a deputy culture and sports editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Lee Eun-ju
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