YLDP: Leadership the Muscle


By Arshia Batra

HOUSTON: On February 4, a group of young aspiring leaders filled a conference room in India House and were asked: Is Governing Possible? In a matter of 45 minutes, we had the opportunity to hear one whole semester worth of government, from former Mayor Annise Parker herself. As the former 61st mayor of Houston and one of the only two women to hold the city’s highest elected office, she has been responsible for the management of the city of Houston and law enforcement. After spending several years in service to the city of Houston, Parker asked us a fundamental question: Is Governing Possible? It is an impractical job with many faults, yet no city or country or even family unit can function without it. However, after so many years of utilizing this essential system, why has it not been perfected?

1.Decision Making is Hard: Choosing an ideal leader with qualities such as empathy, connection, and communication, and expecting them to be able to effectively make larger decisions is not an easy task. There will always be people who are unhappy with the decisions of a leader. These officials are elected to solve problems that may be unrealistic or unsolvable, but how do you balance the cost between the winners and losers of the decision?

2.Leadership is a Muscle: Mayor Parker described leadership as a muscle that must be exercised so that it can get stronger. Stepping out of your comfort zone and being able to claim your space is a skill that only comes with conditioning and training. Mayor Parker spoke of the challenges she faced as an introvert and the tactics she used such as merchant walks, Teletown Hall webchats, and handwritten notes to reach out to her audience and make her presence known. “Once you know your audience, how do you reach them?”

3.Sharpen Your Axe: Having your own tool-box of education, personal skills, and experience is key to being successful in government. Candidates are often just blank canvases to the public, but the dash of color you add to your own canvas can truly make a difference. How do you use a loss or experience to move forward?

After listing reasons claiming that government may seem impossible, former Mayor Annise Parker left with a message: we must decide where we have to eat lunch after all, despite the complications. And this is why government works- because it has to and there is no other way.