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Kurt Schmoke
Political/Education leader

Kurt Schmoke

A former mayor of Baltimore City, Kurt Schmoke is Dean of Howard University School of Law.

Understated leadership

One of the things that impressed me about Sully Sullenberger, and possibly endeared him to others, was that he seemed to exemplify grace under fire. His leadership in that water landing drama was the type of competent and certain leadership that we rarely see publicized except occasionally in the case of military leaders such as David Petreaus.

In the current political environment, elected leaders are not rewarded for quiet, calm and understated leadership. They have to bring attention to their triumphs or the public will ask at election time, "What have you done for me lately?" Unfortunately, some officials go overboard in touting their accomplishments, so it is refreshing to see someone demonstrate the type of leadership that lets action speak louder than words.

I was reminded of how much we miss the unassuming demonstration of leadership by watching professional football over the weekend. Some players feel the need to engage in ostentatious displays after each tackle or pass reception or long run. Other players go about their work without fanfare, doing the job they were paid to do as the gifted athletes they are. It is unfortunate that some of the attention getting antics of pro players have spread into the college and high school ranks, but at least there the referees are authorized to penalize the most outrageous conduct.

Hopefully, the young players will learn more from the example of Sullenberger than they will from the self-congratulatory actions of a few professional players, and this will help us nurture a new generation of leaders with the grace, competence, and effectiveness we desperately need in all walks of life.

By Kurt Schmoke

 |  October 19, 2009; 2:32 PM ET
Category:  Leadership personalities Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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