Weekly Thought – April 12, 2016
Fred’s reputation for objectivity brought people to his office (and eventually his hospital bed). His ability to step back and break situations into manageable pieces facilitated his impact. He understood the art and science of leadership.
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Everyone wants a list of ingredients which make a leader… the common denominators. There is no fool-proof formula. The ingredients vary in each situation. For example, there are times when the key element is courage; other times the decisions are so obvious, courage plays a minimal role.
Certainly, I could give a “traits of a leader” list, but it would be just like listing ingredients in a recipe without giving the amounts or mixing instructions. The chemistry of cooking is in the proper combination of ingredients in the proper environment for the right time. Too many lists are just intellectual exercises. You go down, check off the boxes, and then declare yourself a leader. Mary Alice is an excellent cook. She succeeds because she understands how much, how, and for how long – and does it with love.
One of the greatest requirements of a leader is knowledge of human nature. But the application of that knowledge varies, depending on the activity. For example, Napoleon was known for his exceptional understanding of human nature in war – that was the basis of his power. He knew how hard he could push, how far he could go, and how much he could do with what he had. But he didn’t understand human nature in politics.
Winston Churchill showed tremendous leadership in the throes of World War II. When he tried to exert the same leadership style afterwards, he failed. Leadership is not a formulaic, constant science that works if you only follow A to B to C. Rather, it is a delicately aligned art, as well.
I am often asked, “Fred, is leadership innate or learned?” I think it can be coached, but never implanted. I don’t believe you can make a leader out of someone without an innate gift of leadership. These gifts show up early in life.
Looking at three or four year olds, you can already see emerging patterns. That usually continues through life. But it is critical to develop those gifts. If a person has innate ability, circumstances and training will certainly enhance their use.
Think about this week: 1) How do I strengthen my leadership skills? 2) What is my favorite “go to” leadership skill? 3) Who is depending on me for authentic leadership?
Words of Wisdom: “Leadership is both art and science.”
Wisdom from the Word: “Select wise and practical men, those known among your tribes, whom I may appoint as your leaders.” (Deuteronomy 1: 13 NET Bible)