Defining a Leader from "The Washington Post"

Michael Maccoby is an anthropologist and psychoanalyst globally recognized as an expert on leadership.
December 31, 2008 - Press Release - NPH International

Father Rick Frechette, "the best leader"

How should we define best leader? According to Lao Tzu, writing 2500 years ago, the best of all leaders are the ones who help people so that eventually they don't need them. Then come the ones they love and admire. Then come the ones they fear. The worst let people push them around. The best leaders don't say much but what they say is fully credible. And when their work is finished, the people say, "We did it ourselves." Perhaps the best leaders of 2008 have avoided self-advertisement.

Or we might define the best leader in terms of dramatic success, like Paul Azinger who led American golfers to their first Ryder Cup victory in five years. Unlike former leaders who paired up the best golfers in terms of their records, Azinger put like personalities together and to get to know each other before playing together. He combined a systematic approach with intensity and encouragement. In other words, he showed great leadership.

Or we might define the best leader in terms of furthering the common good, not just on the large world stage where leadership has been disappointing, but in the schools and hospitals that are models for effectiveness. I have met a number of these best leaders in places like Intermountain Health Care, the Mayo Clinic and both KIPP charter schools and public schools where superintendents and principals collaborate with union leaders for the benefit of the children.

However, the best leader I have known and worked with in 2008 is Father Richard Frechette, a Passionist priest and physician who founded Nos Petits Frères et Soeurs in 1987 and St. Damien Pediatric Hospital in 2006, both in the desperately poor country of Haiti. Besides these programs, Father Rick runs 16 street schools, a nutritional program for school children, burials for the poor, water delivery, food distribution and disaster relief. This year after floods devastated Haiti, he was leading by example, rescuing the injured and shoveling houses out of the mud.

Shaken by the corruption and ineptitude of business and government leaders in 2008, we should avoid demoralizing cynicism and recognize, honor and learn from the dedicated and courageous leaders who show us what it is possible to achieve.

Michael Maccoby
NPH International Board Member




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