Weekly Thought – February 7, 2017
Fred appreciated Einstein’s words: “Things should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler.” He liked bringing things to fundamental principles, but not creating pat formulas. He observed the intricacies of thought and enjoyed untangling ideas, so the artfulness of leadership appealed to him.
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Forget the Formulaic
There is no valid list of denominators for leaders – no formulas to follow. The ingredients vary in each situation. Sometimes, for instance, leaders must exhibit courage, yet at other times, their decisions are so obvious no courage is required.
I could list several “Traits of a Leader” but it would be like giving you a list of ingredients without giving the amounts or mixing directions. A bony skeleton has all the structure, but without the internal organs and flesh, it doesn’t resemble a human. Most lists are usually just intellectual exercises. You can go down the list, check the boxes, total the score and declare yourself a leader. But without the ability to put them together in an effective manner, leadership is still absent.
For example, one of the greatest requirements of a leader is knowledge of human nature. However, the application of that knowledge varies, depending on the activity. Napoleon was considered to be the greatest general because he was the master of human nature in war. This was the basis of his power. He knew how hard he could push, how far he could go, how much he could do with what he had. Ironically, he didn’t seem to have the same capacity for people knowledge when it came to politics.
Another example is Winston Churchill who showed tremendous leadership in the emergencies of World War II. When he tried to exert it afterwards, he failed. He understood the power of war-time leadership, but could not translate that into post-war success. There is no firm, constant hold on power – it is a delicate, artful balancing act.
Some people ask if leadership is innate or learned. I think it can be coached but never implanted. The great violinist Heifetz could be taught in the beginning days of his musical career. He learned the fundamentals: notes, rhythm, intonation, bowing, and fingering. As he developed he then needed a coach, not a teacher who taught the rudiments, but someone who fine tuned his skills and knowledge of the repertoire. As he became a world famous performer a great conductor remarked, “I can only tell him if he is doing what he told me he wants to do.”
I don’t believe you can make a leader out of someone without an innate sense of leadership. These skills show up early. You can watch three or four year olds and see those abilities demonstrated. With these innate abilities, circumstances and training will bring it out. The natural is a start, but needs the nurturing of development.
This week think about: 1) When did I first realize I was a leader? 2) How can I develop others? 3) What circumstances are most favorable for leadership development?
Words of Wisdom: “There is no firm, constant hold on power – it is a delicate, artful balancing act.”
Wisdom from the Word: “The discerning person acquires knowledge, and the wise person seeks knowledge.” (Proverbs 18:15 NET Bible)