The American Leadership Foundation is guided by three core values that we both try to adhere to in our own work and look for in potential scholarship grant recipients.
Leadership is rooted in determination and personal strength. While we all need help in our life journeys, we also need to cultivate the will to push past adversity and overcome obstacles if we're ever going to really get anywhere.
Looking for strength within ourselves creates the kind of healthy bias towards action we need to succeed in pursuing any goal, and sets a foundation in our lives we can use to support others.
Life isn't supposed to be easy; it's supposed to be meaningful. Effective leaders square themselves with this truth, and while they might be frustrated with the world as they find it, they remain fundamentally unafraid of it.
Leadership is only found in people who seek to help others. Whether you want to help your family, your friends, or an entire community, you become a leader when you step outside of yourself to advance a cause larger than your own.
Practicing compassion for others is a daily challenge, and includes the many small interactions we have with others as well as the larger purposes towards which we guide our lives. Being consistent on either scale is hard, let alone both, but that difficulty enriches our lives and gives us purpose.
We aren’t happiest when we have all the things that we want, but when we're doing everything we can for the people that we care for.
Leadership is measured by its ability to affect real-world change. Great intentions do not make someone a leader; their ability to follow through and actually make a difference does. The greater the barriers to progress are — the more insurmountable the obstacles — the more leadership needed.
Pragmatism isn’t a matter of lowering one’s goals, or simply aiming to achieve less in life. Oftentimes, those attitudes are the exact opposite of pragmatic; if someone has a cavity in a tooth, it’s no answer for them to only chew with the other side of their mouth because dental work is too uncomfortable. Pragmatism is about confronting reality directly, assessing what is needed and what is possible, then establishing real, achievable plans to push the situation in a different direction.
The effective leader has a fundamental need to confront the world as it is, not as it ought to be.