Iran Case Study: Power & Leadership

The situation in Iran serves as a sharp object lesson. Every leader at every level in every organization faces the test of power. The best will will use the power of their position to create a better world, even if it means sacrificing themselves. The mediocre will use that power to retain their position.

The situation in Iran is intriguing because whether the recent election was a fraud or not, we are learning just how  mediocre Ahmadinejad really is. If the election is a fraud, then he is conducting a raw grab for power and the citizens of his nation are not fooled and will not easily be repressed. If the election is a fraud, then his desire for rank, fame, and power is more important than his ambition to represent the interests of his people and the region in which they live. There is a delicious irony in watching our passionate Persian cousins shouting and marching against one of their own flawed leaders rather than buring American flags and effigies of one of our flawed leaders.

If the election is not a fraud, then Ahmadinejad is a deluded fool. If he did win this election fairly, then he would gain far greater power and credibility in his own nation, in his region, and among world leaders if he merely asked for calm and called for a swift investigation into the allegations of fraud. By using his power and leadership role to drive an open, public, and independent evaluation of the election process and count, he would have cemented his position and his opponent would have shunken to nothing.

In either case – whether the election is a fraud or not – the situation has touched a nerve in the Iranian psyche. Echo’s of “Yes we can” and “It is time for a change” ring amidst all the shouting and anger on the street. Again, if Ahmedinejad were a leader worthy of the title, he would be listening carefully and adapting quickly.  There is no evidence of listening.

There is only evidence of power to retain position. And a failure to lead when his nation needs a leader most.

My only hope is that this story ends with leadership rising as it did in Polish Solidarity rather than power clamping down in Tiananmen Square.

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