When I think of people who I find inspiring, I tend to find one thing unifies them: they all unapologetically speak their minds.

I think that this is one of the most important qualities you can have as a leader.

Unfortunately, I’ve heard many stories of people in positions of power at Trent who smiled and nodded and said What Needed to Be Said when it was time to say it, despite holding totally different views.

I struggle to think of a single more unbecoming thing to do as a leader. It should be your job to provide a strong voice to the discussion and, in doing so, to shape that discussion.

It’s not without precedent though. A quick look at the state of party politics, especially in this country, can provide you with many examples of this type of behaviour.

An MP or MPP is supposed to be a leader for their riding. They are supposed to represent the people. And yet it is always the party leader that dictates how they vote, not the electorate and not an MP’s own opinions.

While despicable regardless of the context, this sort of behaviour is made worse at Trent by the fact that there are no parties here informing people how to vote.

Furthermore, the people who seem to most frequently do things they disagree with are in positions of power more akin to that of a party leader.

I understand that as a leader of a group or party, you’re going to be bound by the consensus that group has generated on important decisions.

It’s also, after all, your responsibility to be the public face of that group. It’s not becoming of a leader to hold contempt for the result of a decision making process either.

For example, if the Arthur Board decided that next year Arthur would be printed on shorter pages to save money, while I disagree, I would have to honour the decision once it was made.

However, the time to air thoughts and opinions would be during the discussion on the matter at the meeting in which it was being decided on.

Rarely do I even see that happening. I suppose premeditating the outcome of a decision is enough to silence some people.

But the worst behaviour of a leader is no doubt when they make criticisms prior to their rise to power, but do an about face when they’re on top.

I have no problem when someone changes their mind as the result of a rigorous critical re-examination of opinion, but more often than not it seems that this is not the case.

It’s not always easy to publicly voice your opinions, especially when you don’t expect them to be well received or criticized. However, as far as I can see, this is something that true leaders absolutely must do.

It is, after all, your job to lead, and I barely see how that can be done when you’re just saying what you think you should say. Who has determined that for you?

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Pat was co-editor of Volume 49, along with Matt Rappolt. He's primarily interested in arts coverage, often editorializing on arts issues. He graduated from Trent with a Bachelor's degree in English Lit. Pat hosts or co-hosts several programs at Trent Radio, such as Media Are Plural. You can follow him on Twitter, or watch him eat through his kitchen window. In his spare time Pat reads a lot (q.v. English major), plays video games, and writes fiction. He has a blog or something but I couldn't find out too much about that.