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John Baldoni
Leadership author

John Baldoni

John Baldoni is a leadership consultant, coach, and regular contributor to the Harvard Business Review online. His most recent book is Lead Your Boss: The Subtle Art of Managing Up.

The sacrificers: First responders, American troops and Bill Husfelt

Question:Considering all spheres of endeavor, who would you nominate as Leader of the Year in 2010? Why?

It has become fashionable in some circles to deride a lack of leadership. But that is to overlook the service of all the men and women who put themselves in harm's way for the benefit of others.

Let me cite three examples:

9/11 First Responders. These were the men and women who put life and limb in peril when they went down to the smoking hulk of the World Trade Center. While most were from New York area, there were many others from around the nation who came to help. When the mission turned from rescue to retrieval, the responders carefully sifted through mountains of debris to locate human remains. More than nine years later, many of these men and women have suffered health complications, some fatal, from breathing the stew of toxic materials. They are once again in the news because Congress has yet to approve health coverage for them. We owe these responders more than gratitude; we owe them the peace of mind that comes from knowing your health care is covered.

Bill Husfelt. Some say crisis defines a leader. If so then Bill Husfelt, superintendent of Panama City (Florida) Schools, exemplifies what it means to show courage under fire. When a gunman, upset that his wife had lost her teacher's job, barged into a school board meeting brandishing a weapon, Husfelt sought to reason with him. Looking straight at the man who was pointing a gun at him, Husfelt calmly asserted that as superintendent all such terminations were his responsibility; therefore the gunman should allow the other board members to leave. Despite Husfelt's pleas, the gunman opened fire but fortunately missed everyone. Husfelt later attributed his calmness under fire to his strong faith in God.

Our troops in Afghanistan. This Christmas will mark the tenth consecutive year that American troops have been at war in Afghanistan; by comparison American troops were in combat for four Christmases during World War II. News coverage of the war focuses chiefly on the unreliability of our Afghan partners, both civilian and military. The American public is weary and wants our troops out now. Yet our soldiers do their duty without complaint, following orders day after day.

Putting your life on the line requires a sense of fortitude that may be beyond most of us. Yet our nation, and our world, is a better place thanks to the men and women who do it for us.

By John Baldoni

 |  December 20, 2010; 4:17 PM ET
Category:  Accomplishing Goals , Crisis leadership , Military Leadership , Self-Sacrifice Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Please report offensive comments below.

Without a doubt, the American voter is at the top of my list. As a collective influence, it put a screeching halt to the Pelosi, Reid, Obama power grab and their hell-bent effort to destroy the country's middle class.

Posted by: logicprevails | December 24, 2010 8:58 AM
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What really gets me is that the GOP seems to be turning its back on the 9/11 heroes. Where the hell were they when terrorists destroyed the Twin Towers? They used this to gain votes, that's all. Now they are trying to block a bill that would aid these same heroes. Many of them lost their lives, and still many of them suffer from various health issues. Some have inoperable cancers, heart and lung issues, and many more. There was this one senator who said it would be disrespectful to work on Christmas, well boohoo...what if the fire department, rescue workers, or police decided to take Christmas as a holiday, think of the chaos. GOP are a bunch of weaklings, then again, all of congress is pretty useless and they are wasting tax payers money. They take raises while they work to freeze federal salaries for 2 years.

Posted by: ChicoPorter | December 21, 2010 9:01 AM
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You know what You guys should stop complaining because, one the health care we have now isnt as good as it was supposed to be. also the law has just been signed so give it some time. so if u want to say u have the right to choose tell that to ur congress men or state official. If you do not have insurance and need one You can find full medical coverage at the lowest price by searching online for "Wise Health Insurance" If you have health insurance and do not care about cost just be happy it and trust me you are not going to loose anything!

Posted by: williamstaerk | December 21, 2010 1:58 AM
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