The Four Fundamental Aspects of Leadership


YLDP Houston students with Judge Edward Emmett, Director of Harris County’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

By Srikar Ganti

HOUSTON: One’s journey into the world of leadership, particularly politics, is often an unexpected one. A transition into leadership is directly correlated with one’s characteristics and ideologies, however one’s connections into the political world are able to precipitate and foster the advancement of one’s political career, as exemplified by Harris County Judge, Edward M. Emmett. Ed Emmett is an extremely accomplished individual as he graduated from Rice University with a Bachelors degree in Economics and received his Masters degree in Public affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. After receiving his education, Emmett went on to serve as a delegate of the Texas House of Representatives and was chairman of the Committee on Energy, a member of the Transportation Committee, and represented the state on numerous national committees relating to energy and transportation policy. After his time serving as a Texas representative, Emmett was able to become Interstate Commerce Commissioner because his close connection with President Bush and his family. After serving in the national government, Ed Emmett returned to Texas and eventually became the Harris County Judge, and serves as the Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.


 Ed Emmett recently held a conference at the Houston Transtar conference center on December 16, where he was able to provide enlightening information to a group of young, ambitious students attending a YLDP conference. Emmett discussed his experiences as a chief executive officer of Harris County and provided astounding insights into the qualities of leadership. To elaborate, Emmett was able to provide the students four simple characteristics that all leaders must possess in order to exhibit leadership in the real world. He was able to break down the concept of leadership into the four basic concepts of Education, Experience, Demeanor, and Followers and expounded upon each of them. Emmett argued that education is the basis of social merit and allows one to establish credibility in the professional world. He exclaimed that education is an extremely powerful weapon which one can use to change the world. Emmett then argued that followers are extremely important in the world of leadership because one is unable to accomplish anything without having a large follower base to support them. One’s innovative ideas and amazing leadership qualities are rendered useless if a leader does not have followers to support them and spread their ideas. In addition, Emmett argued that experience in the field of leaderships establishes a degree of credibility and merit, which allows for the proliferation of even more followers. Lastly, Emmett argued that a leader’s demeanor, or composure, was a critical aspect of leadership because a leader’s demeanor influences the mindset of the people he is leading. If a leader exhibits signs of weakness, people will think he is a weak leader. Through his four fundamental aspects of leadership, Emmett was able to simplify an otherwise complicated subject.
Emmett’s teachings on the fundamental aspects of leadership opened the eyes of those in my group and brought to light the important qualities and characteristics that any leader must have. We learned, in part through Emmett’s teachings and in part through group discussion, that the single most important aspect of leadership is that leadership is not about you, it is about the people you serve. The reason that one should take upon a leadership role is so that one can improve the community and serve the people, and not so that one can attain a position of high power or wealth. This revelation provoked thoughtful debates and discussions within my group as we discussed this idea in the context of the world that we presently live in. We realized that the most effective leaders are those whose sole purpose is to create reform and change to better the world, and not their own position. In addition, we discovered that no matter how difficult it may be, it is always worthwhile to tell the truth in every circumstance. Lying often leads to a slippery slope of lies that compile on top of each other, and eventually tangle a leader in a web of dishonesty. Furthermore, Emmett helped our group come to the conclusion that an effective leader must always be open to change in order to be successful. In his own words, “the world will keep progressing no matter what… so whether you decide to stick with the trend or get left behind is up to you.” These wise words were engrained deeply in the heads of the students in my group as we realized the meaning and application of these words in real life. The guidance that Ed Emmett was able to offer the students at the YLDP conference was truly astonishing as he was able simplify leadership into four fundamental characteristics that any effective leader must have. Along with his simple explanation of leadership, Emmett’s powerful lessons into the morals and ideologies of effective leaders opened the eyes of all the students at the leadership conference. Emmett’s teachings on the qualities of effective leaders provided a refreshing and unique perspective that will definitely be utilized and heeded by all that attended the conference.