Leadership reveals itself in many forms.
One way is when a leader prepares for the worst while hoping for the best outcome. Example: U.S. Army Gen. Dwight Eisenhower launched the D-Day invasion of Europe in June 1944 hoping for ultimate victory, but he was prepared to deliver a message to the world in the event of failure; he would take full responsibility for a tragic outcome.
Another way is when an elected public servant battles a potentially deadly disease, steps away from his or her public duties and then returns to announce a strategy to deal with a worldwide health crisis, such as the coronavirus pandemic. Example: Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson.
I doubt Nelson — who I don’t know well, but is someone with whom I am acquainted — would welcome a comparison with the great Ike, but I am going to offer it anyway.
Nelson is battling cancer. She has backed away from her normal mayoral duties to fight the disease. But this week she issued a mandatory shelter-in-place order for the city of 200,000 residents. She issued the order calmly, with confidence and with compassion. I didn’t watch her make the declaration in real time, but I am willing to bet my entire (and dwindling) retirement fund that she made no mention of her illness, that she didn’t lay a “woe is me” guilt trip on her constituents.
We’re all enduring some level of discomfort during this difficult time. Those who are stricken by the coronavirus deserve our love and compassion. Others of us deserve unflinching leadership from those elected to serve us.
We do not need to hear self-congratulatory blather and mindless happy talk during this dire time … and if you detect a reference to what we’re getting from the very highest levels of our nation’s government, then you win the daily prize.
Well done, Mayor Nelson. Stay strong. Your city needs you.