Every form of government has its values, whether an authoritarian regime or a democratically elected government. However, at the end of the day, the people the government is supposed to serve want basic protection, support, and services from the seat of power. I believe that universally, people want to thrive and not just survive. Nations with high morals and values provide the greatest opportunities for its citizens.
Gus Lee, in his book, Courage, The Backbone of Leadership, eloquently explains how not all values are equal. Lee explains there are low, middle, and high values.
Examples of low values are cronyism, greed, favoritism, hostility, brutality, no regard for human rights, revenge, and control. These are values espoused by the communist Castro regime.
Examples of medium values are loyalty, duty, respect, honor, service, compassion. You can be loyal, and duty bound to a dictator or an evil regime. However, you can be loyal, and duty bound to a great country like the United States and to our constitution. This is why they are middle values. Depending on who and what you are loyal, duty bound, and respectful to makes a difference.
There are very few high values. They include integrity and courage. Integrity is defined as acting for what is right regardless the risk. Courage is correcting wrongs regardless the danger. The sustained demonstration of integrity and courage over time is character.
Sooner or later, adherence to low values will catch up with a government. This explains perfectly what is going on in Cuba these days. Toxic leaders can be successful in the short term, but it is character-based servant-leaders who succeed over the long term. It is the same with governments. Governments for the people and by the people will outlive a tyrannical regime.
The United States of America must be true to its values. Our president needs to be the spokesperson who clearly articulates exactly what our nation stands for. He must be unequivocal. Paramount is our support of human rights and the right of all people to have political, religious, and economic freedom. We must monitor the situation in Cuba closely, keep sanctions in place adversely affecting the communist regime in power, and stand ready to reach out a lend a helping hand if a new legitimate government is established that values human rights and freedom.
A true leader must clearly articulate purpose and what the organization stands for, demonstrate integrity in the promises and commitments made, and ensure quality is maintained. As much as those tenets apply to any organization, they apply all the more to a government.
John L. Gronski, Major General (U.S. Army Retired) is founder and CEO of Leader Grove LLC, an adjunct fellow with the Center for European Policy Analysis and author of the newly-released book, ‘Iron Sharpened Leadership: Transforming Hard-Fought Lessons Into Action’.