Few leaders get that leadership is not the ability to bully others. You cannot see good leadership in action very often, so the lessons are hard to learn by observing.
Today is a good day to reflect on leadership. Sound leadership is what motivates the troops and permits the execution of daring plans. Sound leadership builds others and engenders trust and the need to be trustworthy. On November 11th, pick up on the important and enduring lessons.
I follow Dan Rockwell’s “Leadership Freak” because I learn things often enough to make it worth my trouble. This one is exceptional.
It reminded me of a discussion with the late Walter Hughboy, Chief of the First Nation in Wemindji, Quebec. Walter claimed that a Cree chief had absolute authority over his people, right up to being able to banish someone or have them killed. “But it’s a strange kind of power. You have it as long as you don’t try to use it. Like in your world, the pedestrian has the right of way and the man is the head of the house and they are both safe if they don’t try to prove it.”
Walter understood leadership.
Few of today’s leaders do. They seek the position for what it offers them and much less about what it offers us. As Dan Rockwell points out and as Walter Hughboy knew, leadership is about service. Leadership is about helping others to become what they can become, and less about creating acolytes.
Margaret Thatcher pointed out the problem too. “It used to be that people got into politics to do something. Now they get into politics to be something.”
How very unfortunate.
It is not confined to political leaders. Look for civil servants, institutional and business leaders who value their position more than they value their duties. You can see them easily by looking for cover ups, secrecy, and demands for respect. The “because I said so” response.
If leaders accomplish things, the respect and power and position and authority follow. You cannot demand respect, you have to earn it. In the military there is a common theme. “There are many ways to impress the higher ups. There is only one way to impress the troops.”
Learn what it means to be a leader. Excel at competence and the rest will follow.
Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org