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Scott DeRue
Leadership professor

Scott DeRue

Scott DeRue is Assistant Professor of Management and Organizations at the University of Michigan Stephen M. Ross School of Business. With Maxim Sytch, he created the student-driven Leadership Seminar discussion group.

Fascination with power

This week's health care summit presents Republican leaders with a difficult choice: (1) agree to support a plan that might be modestly changed to accommodate their ideas; or (2) oppose it on principle as too costly and intrusive and use the issue to try to gain political advantage in November. Which strategy offers them the best prospect of regaining power?

When Robert Greenleaf coined the term servant leadership, he described servant leaders as those who put the needs and interests of other people ahead of their own, and do whatever is necessary to ensure that those being served become healthier, wiser, freer, and more autonomous. In fact, he argued that servant leadership "is the rock upon which a good society is built."

Because health care is a central feature of any stable and prosperous society, you would think our elected officials would act as public servant leaders and let society's needs drive the debate and discussion. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Health-care reform has become a political contest and power struggle between Republicans and Democrats, and sadly, the needs of the American people are not being served by our elected leaders.

So, what about the health-care summit? If the goal is to regain political power, the Republicans should oppose at all costs so they can later claim that the Democrats failed in their quest for health-care reform. However, if the goal is to improve the current standard of care in America, both parties must come to bargaining table ready to work together and compromise on a difficult and complex set of issues.

Unfortunately, political goals often trump the needs of America, and given both parties' fascination with power, I don't expect much progress at the health-care summit--at least not until both parties realize that they were elected to be true servant leaders.

By Scott DeRue

 |  February 23, 2010; 5:40 AM ET
Category:  Congressional leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Let's focus on Democrats: both bills and the president's "proposal" cross the line and usurp Americans' protections and rights under the Constitution.

Pelosi mistakenly believes that forcing Americans to purchase insurance is somehow the same as entitlement programs like Medicare or Medicaid.

Democrats have not been able to address health care in systematic, simple, straightforward steps...that address the problems the continue in the programs that are overseen by the feds. This inability to manage existing programs disgruntle Americans and undermines any confidence that Washington and federal employees can do the jobs that they were to have been doing all along. In other words - they have FAILED and we DON'T want another bureaucracy that can be cannibalized by frauds and crooks.

No one has jobs, money to buy insurance, but don't qualify for free medical. We are in such a financial and economical turmoil in our lives...that we can't plan ahead because of the uncertainty that plagues our country. It is a horrible time to tell me to pay 20% administrative tax from my net pay every week AND to then ALSO purchae mandatory insurance premiums from insurance companies that OBAMA said were OUT OF CONTROL. WWWHHHAAATTT?

When Washington wants to discuss each single portion of the health care bill...and establish a working relationship with ME as a participant in this plan...then and ONLY THEN will I feel respected and open to suggestions.

Americans need input at this point. We need to read the bills - bills should be limited to 50 pages (NO special Union coverage, No Lousiana gifts, no mandated insurance.

Posted by: easttxisfreaky | February 24, 2010 12:21 AM
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Members of Congress have one purpose in life - getting reelected.
To them, "public service" means that the public serves their personal interests.

If you are thinking of them as servant leaders, you've been listening to what they say, not watching what they do.

Posted by: BrianX9 | February 23, 2010 11:12 AM
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David Brooks' 2/19/2010 op-ed, "The Power Elite" offers further insight which clearly shows that "servant leadership" isn't exactly a concept understood in the Beltway----real leadership is about hitting sacrifice flies, not home runs... yet, as Brooks' outlines, Washington politicians are all swinging for the fences...

-Matthew Taylor
Jackson, Wyoming

link to Brooks' column: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/19/opinion/19brooks.html

Posted by: emailmatthewtaylor | February 23, 2010 9:57 AM
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