Tribal Nations Leadership By: Dale Brown


Tribal Nation Leadership

Being a leader is difficult. It appears glamorous, but it is more often lonely and thankless.

A common quality of great leaders through the ages is they have been masters at articulating an appropriate vision of the future. They see things which are not yet there and can relay this image to others. (Chief Standing Bear) In any leadership position, the most important aspect of your job will be getting everyone to work together. However, working together is only a beginning. Your role as an exceptional leader will be to get everyone to feel like they are an important and integral part of a common goal.

How do you do this? The underlying theme for unity will be your ability to convey a renewed sense of optimism. An old Lakota elder said it so well, he said, “If you have hope you come alive again.” This just doesn’t happen, it takes a trusted leader to give the organization direction, purpose, hope and ultimately success.

1. How you work with each person is a unique art in itself. You handle and work with people.

2. Sometimes you care more about their success then they care about it.

3. As their leader, you will receive most of the blame when they fail and little credit when they succeed. John Wooden said, “As a leader you will receive a large amount of praise and criticism and you should not be unduly affected by either of them.” To lead a group, they depend on you to stand the test of pressure, take criticism, take charge, and be loyal and have compassion, dream the impossible, persevere, and stand up for justice. It is called courage.

4. Leadership values must include what is right, fair, honest and legal. Ethics happen only when good beliefs lead to good behavior.

5. Effective Communication.

A. A series of interviews with some of America’s most successful business leaders found that almost all of them, when asked what they considered the primary reason for their success, said that their ability to communicate was their greatest asset.

B. Make it crystal clear what is expected. Research shows that most people will remember only 50% of information processed after 10 minutes and only 10% after 24 hours. Use simplicity with constant repetition.

C. (Abe Lemmons)

6. Accessibility

A. If you set yourself off behind closed doors, chances are that folks won’t feel comfortable coming to you. However, if you involve yourself and provide accessibility, that channel can be opened up. You will then have your finger on the pulse of things. This principle also applies to communication. The more that you communicate with people, the more ownership they feel. In order to percolate you must circulate.

7. Be A Good Listener

Most leaders do not understand this concept very well, because they are doing most of the talking. Therefore, an important step in improving the communication process begins by listening. Take a sincere interest in what they are saying. You will not only gain some useful insight to their personality and needs, but you may also gain some useful insights to the inner workings of your organization.

8. Congratulate And Encourage Routinely.

A. Positive praise produces positive results. Also, remember constant praise loses its effectiveness.

B. Contrary to what we often believe, research indicates that higher salaries, long paid vacations, and plush offices are not as important as feeling wanted, appreciated, respected, involved and being a part of a family.

William James one of the greatest philosophers this country has ever produced said, “That at the core of the human personality is the need to be appreciated.”

C. Encouragement is the seed of inspiration. By encouraging a person, it lets the person know that you have faith in their abilities and that they have an undeveloped flair for the task. You may be surprised at what they are capable of accomplishing with a little bit of encouragement. Threats or commands may change a person’s immediate action, but until their perception has been altered, no real change has occurred. Fear impedes progress.

D. Know the difference between flattery and sincere appreciation. Flattery comes from the mouth, while the latter comes from the heart. One has selfish motives, while the other does not. One is cloaked in exaggeration, and the other is dressed in truth.

9. Teamwork/Loyalty

A. In 1893 Chief Hollow Horn Bear said, “Unless we all work together, we will all die.” (Nelson Mandela)

B. 19 of 21 failed.

C. The best potential of me is we. An individual can make a difference but a team can make a miracle.

D. A strong leader should welcome spirited debate. President Eisenhower insisted that all major problems be brought to his attention. He also insisted that when a staff member informed him of a problem, they should at the same time make recommendations for solving it.

E. Weak leadership and a refusal to confront problems rapidly lead to decay. All great leaders have been problem solvers.

Do you make everyone feel important? “The role of most leaders is to get the people to think more of the leader, but the role of the exceptional leader is to get the people to think more of themselves.” Booker T. Washington

10. Know Yourself:

A. George Bernard Shaw, a great British writer, said years ago, “People are three things, what they think they are, what others think they are, and what they really are.”

B. “The Person in the Glass.”

C. Many leaders have lost their moral compass amidst the materialism and greed of our times. Imagine how differently society would function if the power of goodness and doing things fairly replaced the power of money and cheating people.

11. General Mark W. Clark, one of America’s great generals, said this of leadership: “All nations seek constantly because it is the key to greatness, sometimes to survival…the electric and the elusive quality known as leadership. Where does juvenile delinquency begin? In leaderless families. Where do slums fester? In leaderless cities. Which armies falter? Which political parties fail? Poorly led ones. Contrary to the old saying that leaders are born not made, the art of leading can be taught and it can be mastered.

What we desperately need today on all fronts—in our homes and communities, in schoolrooms and boardrooms, and certainly throughout society at large—are leaders, men and women who are willing to stand up for decency, truth, integrity, morality, justice, and law and order; who respond to their consciences even when it is unpopular to do so—perhaps especially when it is unpopular to do so.

Never in the history of the world has there been a more profound need for leaders of principle to step forward.”

12. Albert Einstein long before General Clark expressed his feelings on leadership said, “The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” (Aushwitz)

In each of us are heroes; speak to them and they will come forth. The world desperately needs great leaders. Great leaders are dreamers and fill you up with hope and shower you with a thousand reasons to embrace all aspects of life.

13. Attitude by Charles Swindoll. “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude to me is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than what other people think, say, or do. It is more important than appearance or skill. It will make or break a company, a team, or a nation. The remarkable thing is that we have a choice every day regarding the attitude that we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past…and we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing that we can do is play on the one string that we have and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% of what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you, we are in charge of our attitudes.”

14. The defining characteristic of Native American Indians should be exerting new influence over their lives and communities by commitment for self-determination and to make certain that justice reigns for all. It all starts with a positive attitude. (Martin Luther King) Controlled anger. In the wonderful book Neither Wolf Nor Dog a wise old Lakota elder said, “If at times my words seem angry, you must forgive me. No one who has seen the suffering and tears of our people cannot be angry. But in my heart I struggle to forgive. When you have watched enough, then you act.”

Edmund Burke, an 18th Century English Statesman alerted us centuries ago that “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Strong people stand up for themselves but stronger people stand up for others. (Telamachus)

Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Standing Bear, Red Cloud, Cochise and Geronimo are crying out to you. Your tribal nations come from a proud and gifted ancestry and now to break the shackles of servitude and lead your people from victim to victory, the only path is through strong leaders, unity, discipline and education.

You can make a difference through your leadership and fierce determination.

Great social transformation such as the end of slavery, the women’s and civil rights movements and the end of colonial rule all began with public awareness. Political leaders followed rather than led. A few courageous and committed people brought about change not the politicians. “If the door to opportunity does not open to polite knocks, kick the damn thing down.”

By: Dale Brown

Mitakuye Oyasin



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