Many were surprised Sunday night when Pete Buttigieg, former South Bend, Ind., mayor, announced he was removing his name from the Democratic nomination process. His gracious exit was not of spite or competition, but rather a selfless commitment to unity.
As Buttigieg had remained steady in the polls, particularly after winning the Iowa caucuses, many anticipated he would stand a fighting chance. But approaching Super Tuesday and following former Vice President Joe Biden's win in South Carolina, it was clear if all the candidates would continue to run, it would only make it more complicated for everyone remaining.
Although many have been impressed and surprised by the young candidate from the beginning, Buttigieg was able to clearly see the possibilities and benefits for his party if he were to step down.
In his closing remarks, Buttigieg stated, "I will no longer seek to be the 2020 Democratic nominee for president, but I will do everything in my power to ensure we have a new Democratic president come January." By ending his presidential bid, Buttigieg saw not only the possibility to stand more united with the Democratic Party, but saw it as his responsibility.
"We have a responsibility," Buttigieg said, "to consider the effect of remaining in this race any further … The best way to keep faith with [our] goals and ideals is to step aside and help bring our party and our country together."
This is just the kind of selfless, unified mindset we should all take on if we truly desire to see our nation grow toward a change for the better. The presidential race, just as any election, is one that is naturally very self-focused, if not self-indulgent. Particularly at this point, it is every man for himself.
Following the very strained and disorderly Democratic debate in South Carolina, as candidates were struggling for the spotlight, it seemed things would only get uglier before they would get better. As Buttigieg pulled out of the presidential bid, he clearly saw it as a step forward to support a Democratic candidate who could more likely win the election.
Buttigieg's altruistic route to closing his run was to put his agenda aside for the sake of the greater good. He has ended his bid for president, not with remorse, or negativity towards his opponents, but solely seeking the best of those around him.
The Harvard Business Review's article "A Survival Guide for Leaders," by Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky, addresses some of the most common yet dangerous desires for leaders, two of them being the desire for control and the desire to be of significance.
The article states, "Most people also have some need to feel important and affirmed by others. The danger here is that you will let this affirmation give you an inflated view of yourself and your cause. A grandiose sense of self-importance often leads to self-deception."
Regardless of what remains for Buttigieg's future in politics, he has taken this opportunity in the 2020 presidential election to demonstrate exemplary leadership. What many leaders would consider being a failure, Buttigieg has stood above as an opportunity for his party and the nation to move forward.
It may be a lost lesson in leadership. Because who really wants to promote the idea that for the success of your people, company or vision, maybe your next best step as a leader is to step aside? But this is exactly what Buttigieg has done so civilly.
If only more of our government leaders could embody such selflessness within their authority, within their vision and within their leading, America could finally resolve to discover the values we were first rooted in.
Dr. Kent Ingle serves as the President of Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, and is the author of "Framework Leadership." A champion of innovative educational design, Ingle is the president of one of the fastest growing private universities in the nation. As president, Ingle founded the American Center for Political Leadership at the university and is also a founding member of the Presidents' Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration. Before becoming Southeastern's president in 2011, Ingle held leadership positions in higher education and the nonprofit sector in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Seattle. Ingle is the author of several leadership books and the creator of the Framework Leadership podcast. He currently serves on the board of the Florida Chamber of Commerce Foundation. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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