Values always decay over time. Societies that keep their values alive do not do so not by escaping the process of decay but by powerful processes of regeneration. There must be perpetual rebuilding. Each generation must rediscover the living elements in its own tradition and adapt them to present realities. To assist in that discovery is one of the tasks of leadership.
Leaders must understand how and why human systems age, and must know how the processes of renewal may be set in motion. The purposes are always the same:
– To renew and interpret values that have been encrusted with hypocrisy, corroded by cynicism or simply abandoned; and to generate new values when needed.
– To liberate energies that have been imprisoned by outmoded procedures and habits of thought.
– To reenergize forgotten goals or to generate new goals appropriate to new circumstances.
– To achieve, through science and other modes of exploration, new understandings leading to new solutions.
– To foster the release of human possibilities, through education and lifelong growth.John Gardner – On Leadership