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To be a true leader


          Every country’s leader is a representative of his or her nation, and plays a crucial part in governing society and portraying that nation’s current state to other countries around the world. Currently, a huge political scandal in South Korea has enraged tens of millions of people. If the current state of South Korea indeed indicates a failed leadership, then it is well worth reflecting on how various successful leaders differ from failed ones.


Leaders who enrage people


Past President Park Geun-Hye from Korea and president Francois Hollande from France


     President Park Geun-Hye of South Korea has undoubtedly enraged a lot of people. She was inaugurated as the 18th president of South Korea on 25 February 2013. The most remarkable thing about her is that she was the first female president of South Korea and the daughter of the former president Park Chung-hee, who was the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th President of South Korea.

     However, in October 2016, JTBC, a Korean media company, reported a story about President Park’s close friend Choi Soon-sil; her tablet PC was found to contain some top secret government documents such as presidential speeches. It has since become a national scandal that Choi Soon-sil, a civilian, has intervened in governmental affairs. President Park Geun-hye's approval rating subsequently dropped to a mere 3%, and action was taken to impeach her in December 2016. The impeachment trial is ongoing.

     The next leader I would like to mention who has become increasingly unpopular is President Francois Hollande of France. He was inaugurated as the 24th President of France on 15 May 2012. However, at the end of December of 2016 his approval rating dropped to just 4% due to France’s high unemployment rate, economic recession, and increased terror threat from IS. As a result, he has announced that he will not run for president in this year’s upcoming election. One of the main reasons he elected for president was his presidential election pledge to reduce the unemployment rate. However, the current unemployment rate of France is now 10%, which is the highest ever recorded in the country. An increasing number of French citizens resent President Hollande because they no longer trust him.


True leaders from all over the world


Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany

     The first leader I would like to mention who I believe to be more reputable is Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany. She was inaugurated in 2005 as Germany’s first female chancellor and has maintained her position until now. Internationally, as well as domestically, many regard her as a true leader, some even branding her ‘Germany’s Margaret Thatcher’, with Forbes Magazine ranking her as the most influential woman in the world.

     Chancellor Merkel’s leadership has been remarkable. She believes that real social security comes from industry enlargement, so she encouraged investment in the development of high-tech products while increasing the number of skilled workers able to create such products. As a result, Germany has been able to further strengthen its reputation as a powerhouse in manufacturing. During the first two years of her tenure as chancellor, unemployment was reduced by 3% and economic growth increased by 2.7%, while exports also saw a significant increase.

     Chancellor Merkel has become recognised as a true leader not only because of her policies but because she seems to be a very humane figure. The fact that she has been at the forefront of accepting refugees to Germany while condemning those who are unwilling to accept refugees is a case in point. She will run for her fourth consecutive term in the general elections this year; however, she now faces much opposition to secure re-election. It seems that an increasing number of German citizens oppose her refugee policy, as unfortunately some of the refugees admitted to Germany have been responsible for committing criminal activities.



Barack Obama, former president of USA and Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

     The second true leader that I would like to discuss is Barack Obama, former President of the United States of America. He was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States in 2009 and became the country’s first African-American leader in their history. Unlike many other presidents, his retirement approval rating was 60% which ranks as the 4th highest in America’s history.

     Many people claim that Obama is a true leader because of his policies as president. One of his greatest achievements is ‘Obama Care’. Obama Care is US healthcare reform law that expands and improves access to care and curbs spending through regulations and taxes. More than 20 million citizens, which is 90% of the total population, are eligible to Obama Care and, as a result, those in lower income brackets are able to receive medical treatment. He is also greatly concerned about climate change and the Paris Climate Agreement, something which he has always spoke passionately about. Moreover, he has been praised particularly highly for the nuclear agreement he struck with with Iran and for the advancement of LGBT rights and policies. In his speeches, President Obama always tried to deliver positive and motivational messages through slogans such as “Yes, we can!” In his farewell speech, he ended with the phrase “Yes, we can! Yes, we did!”, offering encouragement to people everywhere that a better world is possible with determination and passion.

     Finally, I would like to discuss another great leader: Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada. He is the son of the former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, who is considered by many to be the greatest ever Canadian prime minister. Justin Trudeau became Prime Minister of Canada at the age of 43, making him the youngest leader in the country’s history. Prior to this, he was responsible for helping to rebuild the progressive politics of Canada for around a decade.

     Trudeau’s policies have been particularly remarkable because they have sought to reflect the diversity of Canadian society. For example, his cabinet ratio of men to women is 50:50, while he has also and elevated the status of engagement with Aboriginal people to one of utmost national importance . In addition, he cares greatly about economic growth and environmental protection. Trudeau’s government has also introduced middle-class tax cuts and ‘wealth tax’ since January 2016, promoting middle-class growth alongside eco-friendly economic policies. He is also implementing policies such as increasing educational financial support to 50% for middle- and low-income families. Regarding the environment, he will introduce a carbon pricing system from 2018, as well as other eco-friendly policies such as one which aims to prevent arctic pollution through cooperation with the US.



What are the qualities of true leadership?

There are a lot of good and bad leaders in this world, but what defines a true leader?


       One of the greatest qualities of a true leader is the ability to accommodate the opinions of others. President Obama, for example, was well known for accepting advice from Vice President Biden and constantly trying to communicate with his cabinet. His open communication with others, as opposed to a single-minded approach, increased the American public’s trust in him.

       Secondly, one of the qualities of a true leader is honesty. A leader who lacks credibility loses people’s trust and then is no longer an appropriate leader; President Nixon’s Watergate scandal is a prime example of this. After a bug was discovered in the Democratic campaign headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in downtown Washington, subsequent court proceedings revealed that Nixon was behind the incident. However, Nixon continued to deny responsibility, though eventually resigned as president with impeachment otherwise having become almost certain. Similarly, in Korea, the people involved in the Choi Soon-sil case have denied responsibility, including President Park Geun-hye, which has angered the majority of Korean citizens.

       Thirdly, another important quality that makes a true leader is morality. Being in a powerful position requires morality in order to prevent corruption and integrity issues.  No matter how good a country or organization is, it will be ruined if its leader lacks mortality. For example, the Philippines managed to develop a reasonably strong economy in the 1970s when Ferdinand Marcos became the country’s leader. In the early years of the Marcos era, the Philippine economy hit its peak, and so Marcos had a pretty good reputation. However, he was corrupted by his power, fixing elections and thus jeopardizing his country’s democracy. In addition, he accumulated wealth through illegal means. The Philippines suffered the consequences of Marcos’ immoral actions, with the country’s political system and economy rapidly falling into disarray.

       The final key quality of a true leader that I would like to mention is communication. Communication is a very important because leaders are people who need to listen and gather opinions for the betterment of people’s lives. During President Obama’s speech on the Immigration Reform Act in 2013, a Korean American shouted out loudly during a speech regarding a personal immigration issue, leading to a security guard trying to eject the person from the venue. However, President Obama halted the ejection, praised the student for his passion, and offered him the opportunity to speak. In stark contrast to President Obama, the President of the Republic of Korea, Park Geun-hye, is now regarded as an icon of disgrace. During her press conferences, she has only expressed her opinions and has not allowed journalists to ask questions. Ultimately, she has become a leader who is unable to gain people’s trust due to her lack of communication.


       Since the future of a nation can be determined by its leader, it is imperative to ensure that the leader is fully capable of managing the nation. No human being is perfect, though the ability to accommodate the opinions of others, communicate effectively, be honest, and uphold morality are vital qualities for being a truly great leader. 

김지윤  jeeyoon0817@hanmail.net

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