Letter: Inclusion, compromise at heart of servant leadership

From: Richard Gold


What makes Columbus special? What one thing makes our city remarkable, unexpected and unforgettable? Is it our architecture? Is it our parks? Is it our cost of living? Is it our downtown? Is it our people? Is it our schools? Maybe none of the above.

Perhaps it’s how for decades our leaders have worked together. They’ve built a common vision. They’ve involved many. They’ve listened and made changes.

They’ve managed to align institutions, public and private, and our employers and many boards and commissions. Not perfect, but darn good. They’ve bridged fractures, not created them.

This spirit of cooperation, inclusion and compromise is the central part of the process that yields what we proudly call home. It is at the heart of servant leadership. All else flows from this, whether it is jobs, parks, architecture, our downtown, or attracting and retaining the very best people to our community.

If you were pointed to 100 perfectly manufactured parts, would you look at the parts and say this is why we are good, or would you point to the manufacturing process and say this is what makes us great — the ability to consistently produce 100 percent quality parts each and every time?

So when Jim Lienhoop quotes J. Irwin Miller and says, “In Democracy, the process is just as important as the product,” perhaps we should all stop and think a bit more. We need leaders who pull us together, not fracture us apart. We cannot create a great city without a central spirit of dialogue, compromise and inclusion. Shrill attacks have no place in this dialogue, nor irresponsible charges of unlawful conduct. Respectful disagreement is central. The pronoun is “we,” not “I.”

Some would say it’s a matter of style only and don’t worry. As a concerned citizen and taxpayer, I’d say be careful. Very careful. We’re toying with the engine of excellence, the secret sauce, perhaps the very soul of our city.

We know what the spirit of respect, inclusion and common vision can do. It’s present all about us — jobs, parks, arts, great people and then some. No question there is more to be done — East Columbus and other corridors to be developed, tackling too much poverty and finding more jobs. And that’s the question at hand.

On May 5 we make a decision whether we go forward with what makes us special. It might be the only time we get to make this call in the next four years.

It’s not anger. It’s not driving wedges among us. It’s not disrespecting the work of those who came before us. It’s truly understanding that the spirit of respect and cooperation allows for an achievable and common vision of excellence. One that continues to make us unexpected and unforgettable.

Get in the game. Affect the outcome. Vote for Jim Lienhoop for mayor in the Republican primary.