THE BLOG

Message From My Six-Year-Old: Leaders Should Lead

06/02/2010 04:56 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

On Memorial Day, my six-year-old son Owen and I were watching the evening news together. We were watching Vice President Joe Biden speak at Arlington National Cemetery commemorating one of our nation's most important holidays. Owen turned to me and said "Dad, why isn't the president speaking?"

My initial reaction was I'm sure he is speaking somewhere, and later he spoke at Andrews Air Force Base. But thinking about it I realized, he delegated this responsibility at Arlington. Unfortunately, this is one of those times that the leader needs to be present -- Arlington National Cemetery during two long wars.

A few weeks ago, I received a phone call from principal at South Glens Falls (New York) High School. Carla Biviano introduced herself as the principal and asked if I had a moment to speak. She indicated that it had been a difficult year within the school, and that she felt the student body needed some inspiration. She heard about the talks that I have been giving in high schools, and wondered if I would be willing to come up to South Glens Falls. I said I would be honored.

When I arrived at South Glens Falls, Ms. Biviano was out in front of the school introducing herself. The assistant principals introduce themselves as we went through the event, but I was immediately impressed with the leadership.

Too many times do we see leaders take a step back and delegate... It's the rare leader today that is out in front of a problem, taking control and seeking a solution.

Over the weekend, we spent time camping as a family. My six-year-old, my wife and I walked around one of the historic areas during the Revolutionary War in Upstate New York -- Fort Crown Point. At one of the kiosks out front, there is a painting of Gen. George Washington crossing the icy Delaware. While it has nothing to do with Crown Point, it is one of the most vivid images of the Revolutionary War. Nothing was said amongst our family, but I noticed we all looked at the painting.

It is interesting to me that only hours after that, my six-year-old made the connection about leadership. Why wasn't the president out front on Memorial Day? I have no answer. Principal Carla Biviano is out in front literally and figuratively of the problems and responsibilities she faces. It's just too bad that a national television audience can't see that every day leadership.