According to a recent leadership survey by Alma College, the nation’s “best” leaders are the politicians most distrusted by the American public. That’s according to a national survey that asked businessmen and women to name up to three living individuals they considered to be superior leaders.
Despite low approval ratings, President George W. Bush was cited most often. Equally surprising was who came in No. 2: Bill Clinton.
More than 500 people were identified in the EPIC-MRA study, sponsored by Alma College and its Center for Responsible Leadership. President Bush was cited by 11 percent of the respondents, followed by Clinton (5 percent), Rev. Billy Graham (4 percent) and Gen. Colin Powell (4 percent).
Microsoft CEO Bill Gates and the respondents’ fathers were identified by 3 percent of those surveyed, beating out such national personalities as Lee Iaccoca, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rush Limbaugh and Oprah Winfrey.
Twenty percent of the respondents chose not to identify any superior leaders.
“Businessmen and women in particular look to their presidents for superior leadership, yet our last two presidents — Bush and Clinton — were identified by only 11 and 5 percent of the respondents,” said John Leipzig, director of the Alma College Center for Responsible Leadership.
“The fact that one in five surveyed could not name a superior leader suggests that the country is struggling with a perceived crisis of leadership,” he said. “As we enter another presidential campaign season, Americans are desperate for a candidate that will display the qualities of a superior leader.”
Despite the survey findings, the skills, values, knowledge and personal discipline necessary to be superior leaders are not limited to aspiring presidents, celebrities or people who are “in charge,” said Leipzig. They are found in people “in all walks of life, at all levels of an organization.”
“Corporate America, our schools, communities, churches and organizations are not generally led by politicians and celebrities; they have to be led by people who can anticipate and manage change, have a sense of ethical purpose and commitment, and understand the long-term impact of decisions on the health and well being of their organizations and communities,” said Leipzig.
The study also identified differences in gender and educational background:
— Fifteen percent of respondents without a college degree named President Bush as a superior leader, compared to 7 percent of respondents with college degrees. All other top leaders were consistent among degreed and non-degreed respondents.
— Responders most frequently identified male leaders, with only two women identified by at least two percent of the respondents — Hillary Clinton and Oprah Winfrey. “My mom” was named by only 1 percent of the respondents.
— Both male and female respondents were consistent in their naming of leaders, with both naming Presidents Bush and Clinton most frequently. However, 4 percent of female respondents named Oprah Winfrey as a superior leader, compared to 1 percent of male respondents.
Alma College Leadership Survey Websites: