Q: With Laura Bush in the news with her new memoir and Michelle Obama pushing her plan to fight childhood obesity, what advice would you offer to those who find themselves in such ambiguously defined leadership roles? Can a First Lady be a leader in her own right?
Just as every authentic, self-aware leader must find his or her own leadership style, every leader must discover his or her own unique role in society. Though we often see that roles and norms are influenced by societal values, we can hardly say these roles are set in stone. Society is neither linear nor static; rather, society comprises the complex, dynamic interplay of all the individuals within it. The great thing about this is that each of these unique individuals can offer something unique to society -- a comparative advantage of sorts. It does not matter whether that person is a man or a woman, a president or a first lady. What matters is the individual role that person consciously chooses to play within the context of society.
Bearing this in mind, I would feel rather disheartened if a first lady opted not to assume the role of a leader (just as I would feel disappointed if any other individual chose to passively pursue an easier route in lieu of trying to make a difference when presented with a leadership opportunity). Great people spend their entire lives pursuing positions that garner half the power and attention of a first lady, if even that, in order to make a positive difference. These people's roles are no less ambiguous, but each of their roles is powerful because they are each defined by an authentic self.
With great power comes great responsibility, and without a doubt, today's capacity for the media to focus on the action or inaction of America's first ladies grants them an unprecedented potential for power. It's up to these ladies to define how they will use that power. -- Cadet Woo Do
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.
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