Winter 2014

The True Definition of Leadership


Although the specific functions of a Legislator may vary from state to state, the role may be generally defined as an elected official who crafts bills and votes them into law within the state legislative body. However, this by no means describes the full scope of a state legislator’s responsibility, and it certainly does not reflect the full expectations of constituents.

If you talk to the citizens whom state legislators represent, they will tell you that they expect their representatives and senators to visit them in their communities, to listen and talk with them about the issues that concern them, to create solutions to problems, and to represent their interests in the state governments. Essentially, they expect their state legislators to be leaders who are not only effective decision-makers, but compassionate negotiators whose ultimate goal is to serve the will of the people who voted for them.

The theme of this issue of The Legislator is leadership. Here, authors explore the roles of different types of leaders, outline lessons learned from their experiences, and provide insight for those who might follow in their footsteps. The articles cover a range of issues, including leading in the face of challenges (e.g., legislative gridlock, dismantled voting laws), leadership through bold and effective policymaking, assessing the progress of women leaders, understanding the fundamentals of good leadership, and gleaning knowledge from the experiences of past and present NBCSL leaders.

Now that mid-term elections are over, State Legislators have the challenging and unique opportunity to transform the trajectory of not only their state legislatures but this country by their actions and leadership. These words of advice from John Quincy Adams serve as a guide for those who aspire to great leadership: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.”

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