On June 18,1940, Winston Churchill, the newly elected British Prime minister, addressed the House of Commons regarding the Battle of France and the impending Battle of Britain. The United States would not enter into the war for another six months, leaving Britain to stand alone against the Nazi war machine. Churchill’s speech was not only intended to address the House, but was also broadcast on the BBC to the British public. Many have considered this to be one of the greatest speeches ever given in the English language. What is it about this speech that makes it so powerful?
The Great Visionary
In order to study the importance of this speech, we must study the events which had occurred leading up to it. Only two weeks prior to Churchill’s speech, the British navy, along with a fleet of private fishing boats, completed the evacuation of British, French and Commonwealth troops from Dunkirk before they were utterly crushed by the advancing Nazi forces. Only having held the office of Prime Minister for six weeks, Churchill needed to calm, inspire and motivate not only the British military, but the people as well. So as we look at the speech, I will attempt to break down the speech into some key elements he used to achieve his goal.
Throughout most of the 36 minute speech, Churchill spoke very directly and very logically about the events in France. He opens the speech by placing blame for the “colossal military disaster” (Churchill, 1940) squarely on the French High Command, but holds in a more subtle way, the House of Commons and the Parliament at fault as well. At the same time, he tells the British people that he does not want to dwell on this, but must look to the future. In fact he speaks of the future several times during the course of the speech. “Of this I am quite sure, that if we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we shall find that we have lost the future” (Churchill, 1940). To this he immediately follows up with facts and figures regarding the number of troops rescued from the shores of Dunkirk, including British, Canadian and French troops. In fact, during most of the speech he refers to facts and figures regarding their ability to defend the Island from any possibility of invasion. During the entire speech, Churchill always spoke in truthful yet positive terms, then telling the British people that it is business as usual, “Those who are not called up, or else are employed during the vast business of munitions production in all its branches-and their ramifications are innumerable-will serve their country best by remaining at their ordinary work until they receive their summons.” (Churchill, 1940). At its heart, one can see the British wartime slogan “Keep Calm and Chive On”. During his address, Churchill never tried to pull the wool over the eyes of the British people by diminishing the strength of the German military forces, but also insisting that Britain will prevail. When placing Churchill into the role of a modern business leader, Caroline Longstaffe writes “Churchill’s approach would be firstly to explain the current realities, then inspire the team by offering them a vision for how things could be, then tell them how to achieve this and finally mobilize them into action” (Longstaffe, 2005).
The Great Orator
Winston Churchill was a visionary leader, of that there is no doubt. To be a great leader, he also had to be a great communicator. He had not only a keen grasp of the English language, but understood how to deliver his message. If one looks at the final typed transcript of the speech and how it is setup, it is written in a blank verse format, with five-line paragraphs of indented type, “a form the Churchill Archives Center's director, Allen Packwood, compared to the Old Testament Book of Psalms, regarded by many literary scholars as one of the seminal influences, with Shakespeare, on Churchill's literary and rhetorical style” (Burns, 2010). One can read the words, but this does not compare to listening to Churchill himself give the speech. To listen to the tempo and rhythm he uses, perhaps calculated to calm the people. Even though this is dire news, it is given so as to not incite panic in the British people. One important thing to note as it pertains to leadership communication is that, like all of his speeches, he wrote this speech. Unlike modern politicians, there were no speech writers during this period. The words are his, and because of this, he believes his words and is sincere in his message. In order to convey a positive ethos, a leader must be sincere, using their own words, style and tone to convey their message, even if that message is not necessarily a good one.
A Man of Purpose
Sir Winston Churchill’s Finest Hour speech had vision, which he conveys to the House of Commons and the British people with a sincerity that all leaders should strive for. Along with those qualities, his speech also had purpose. In the final four sentences, Churchill states, “Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, "This was their finest hour” (Churchill, 1940). He makes no bones about what failure means, but that if everyone does their part, the Empire will endure. Those future historians will look back and say that despite overwhelming odds, Britain prevailed. She prevailed because her people never lost hope, kept calm and chived on. All leaders, whether in the corporate world or the political arena, should aspire to this kind of honesty and sincerity.
Burns, John F. (2010, June 18) Seventy Years Later, Churchill's 'Finest Hour' Yields Insights. The New York Times, p A8(L).
Churchill, Winson (1940, June 18), Finest Hour Speech, Address to the House of Commons, London England
Longstaffe, Caroline (2005) Winston Churchill, a leader from history or an inspiration for the future? Industrial and Commercial Training 37(2/3), 80-83
On June 18,1940, Winston Churchill, the newly elected British Prime minister, addressed the House of Commons regarding the Battle of France and the impending Battle of Britain. The United States would not enter into the war for another six months, leaving Britain to stand alone against the Nazi war machine. Churchill’s speech was not only intended to address the House, but was also broadcastKevin Marosi Articles
Many managers believe that it is enough to show up and be seen, but then this is why I refer to them as managers and not leaders. Leadership require more than just showing up, it requires engagement; but if a manager doesn’t know what engagement looks like chances are they are missing opportunities to move from manager to leader.
In a recent GALLUP article by Randall Beck and Jim Harter, they state that only 30% of U.S. employees are engaged and cite managers for being the primary cause. While every manager may not be a great leader it would be remiss to assume they don’t want to be and it is more likely that they don’t know how to be a great leader.
So what is a manager to do? Here are 5 simple things they can start doing right away to be more engaged.
1. Say good morning. When is the last time you walked around and said good morning to all of your employees? It seems simple, and it is, yet many leaders come in and head straight for their office. If you can do it every day great, if not, try for once a week. If you say “Good morning, have a great day.” It will have an amazing effect on your employees.
2. Recognize and Compliment. Don’t assume your employees know they are doing a good job; tell them! Look for opportunities to recognize the contributions your employees make to the organization and not just the big ones, the small ones count too. Remember, no news is not always good news.
3. Meet one on one. If there is one thing you need to start doing if you’re not already is to meet with your employee’s one on one. Have them schedule 15-30 minutes with you weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. Make the time about them, not you by always asking questions like: What are you working on; what are your roadblocks, what can I do for you; what should I stop doing.
4. Walk around and ask questions. I don’t mean “what are you working on” or “what the status of X project is”, ask questions to make a personal connection. “How was your weekend ”,“How are your kids/spouse/significant other”. Leaders need to be seen and that lends itself to making personal connections with your employees. As with number one, you may not be able to do it every day but you should do it at least once a week. Put it on your calendar.
5. Listen more, talk less. You cannot speak and listen at the same time, listening takes effort and focus. Apply this to 1-4 and you will be well on your way to better engagement with your employees.
Remember that if you want to have engaged employees you have to be an engaged leader. The more engaged you are with them, the more engaged they will be and the less likely they are to leave you and the organization.
*Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Many managers believe that it is enough to show up and be seen, but then this is why I refer to them as managers and not leaders. Leadership require more than just showing up, it requires engagement; but if a manager doesn’t know what engagement looks like chances are they are missing opportunities to move from manager to leader. In a recentAnthony T. Eaton Articles Employee relations
The demands on leaders can be many and they are often pulled in multiple directions at once. Having employees that work for you helps you to get things done and takes some of the burden off, but it also brings with it a great responsibility and new set of expectations and needs. Employees need things from their leaders and it is not just more work.
Here are six things that I believe all employees need their leaders to be.
Everyone wants to know where they stand and how they are doing. If things are great sing their praises; if things aren’t great let them know. No one likes surprises and or wants to have to guess. Feedback is an ongoing activity not just a once a year activity that occurs with annual reviews or when there are complaints.
You may not be able to tell your employees everything but be as honest and transparent as you can and if you can’t share information let them know why. Why goes a long way.
Going hand in hand with honesty you need to be a communicator and able to provide feedback, information and direction. Employees want to know what is going on, what is coming up, what to expect and what is expected of them. Information is everything and no one wants to feel like they are in the dark.
Obviously you have to be committed to the business and organizations goals but it doesn’t end there; you have to be committed to your team and people individually.
You have to set the direction for your team and be committed to it while balancing the goals of the organization and aspirations of your team members all while being committed to helping them achieve them.
The workplace can easily become negative. Remember we spend more time with the people we work with than our own family so there is bound to be some strife. Work can also be hard, that is why it is called work.
Deadlines, demands and sheer volume will take its toll. You need to remember that your employees are people; they have lives outside of the office and no matter how we all try to separate the two, when things are hard in our personal lives it makes it hard in our professional life as well. Try to know and understand what your employees are faced with and potentially going through.
The key is to be able to take a positive approach to working through things and not letting negativity permeate the workplace.
Employees want you to be confident; even if you don’t feel confident you need to project confidence. Knowing that the person at the helm can steer the ship or at least believes they can, instills confidence in the crew. Everyone knows leaders don’t have all the answers and can’t solve all the problems but if they know you have the confidence to try and find the answers and help solve the problems it will instill confidence in them. This leads us to the last thing on my list.
We all want to be inspired but inspiration does not always come easy; a fire needs a spark. We all have to do those things that we would rather not do, but what makes that easier knowing you get to do the things you really enjoy.
Find out what your employee’s strengths are then leverage them. Also find out what their goals and aspirations are, encourage them and help them however you can. Take a genuine interest in them beyond just being their boss. No one wants to feel like they are just a means to an end.
Finally remember that your employees are always looking at the way you handle things and how you lead. Let your leadership be inspirational because you may be helping to create future leaders.
Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
The demands on leaders can be many and they are often pulled in multiple directions at once. Having employees that work for you helps you to get things done and takes some of the burden off, but it also brings with it a great responsibility and new set of expectations and needs. Employees need things from their leaders and it is not just more work. Here are six thingsAnthony T. Eaton Articles
The Navy – it’s not just a job, it’s an adventure! Get technical training, see the world, earn educational benefits, and be part of the fight against global terrorism! These are just a few of the reasons people are motivated to join the Navy. The Navy experience varies from sailor to sailor causing some to leave the Navy after a few years and others to make it a career. After their duty station, the biggest influence on a sailor’s Navy experience is typically their leader and that person’s leadership style. Leadership styles in the Navy can be compared to a Clint Eastwood movie; The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Generally when a Sailor or Navy veteran is asked who their best leader was, it won’t take them much time to identify the good. Similarly, when ask who their worst Navy leader was, they can identify the bad almost immediately. Then there are those sailors who have experienced the ugly Navy leader. These are sailor’s who have survived bosses whose leadership styles are so toxic, the leader is often relieved from their position.
What leads to these people in authority to act the way they do, whether good, bad, or ugly? It has been suggested that a leaders inner motives, combined with their competencies, drives leadership style. The leader chooses their leadership style to help them best achieve their motives. This article explores what motivates one subsection of the military, naval leaders, and how that motivation influences the specific leadership style or styles they use.
Honor, Courage, and Commitment
All sailors are required to know and expected to live the Navy’s Core Values of “Honor, Courage, and Commitment.” Honor requires truthfulness, honesty, integrity, respect for others, knowing right from wrong, and acting in an ethical manner. Courage is the personal and moral fortitude to do what is right whether facing anything from enemy fire to a temptation. Commitment means staying the course regarding the oath to ‘defend and protect,’ personal behavior, technical skills, and respect for others. The core values give all sailors the fortitude to fulfill their duty to their followers and their country.
These core values were not arbitrarily arrived at. Being honest was rated the top characteristic of admired leaders in repeated studies. Even though the studies were conducted with non-military personnel, courage was also ranked high. These values drive commitment and without commitment, a leader’s credibility diminishes.
Navy Leadership Training
The Navy has long recognized that leadership styles and skill levels have an impact on mission accomplishment, retention, and morale. For years, the Navy has had the Naval Leadership Continuum which provides career-long leadership training from E-4 to the flag officer level. The top three leaders of any Navy command are expected to attend leadership training at the commanding officer, executive officer, or command master chief level as appropriate. Navy leadership training is not only for senior leaders but is also targeted at far more junior personnel. Navy leadership training has such a good reputation Forbes magazine reported that many of the top corporations in the nation have studied it “…to see what they can learn and adapt from the Navy, to weave into their own cultures of leadership learning and development.”
Sounds good, right? Despite the majority of Navy leaders who uphold the highest traditions of our nation, other Navy leaders continue to make headlines for leadership failures. Regrettably, these incidents greatly damage the leader’s career and normally reflect poorly on his or her family, service, and country. What motivates these leaders to stray from the sound leadership principles which they have been taught? And can their leadership style predict hidden motivations?
In reality, it is difficult to know what truly motivates an individual, but with most leaders there are indications of what motivates them. Going back to Clint Eastwood’s outline, let’s look at some well-known naval leaders, their leadership styles, and what may have motivated them.
While stationed on the Joint Staff in the Pentagon in the 1990s, I was fortunate enough to serve with two great naval leaders, General Peter Pace, USMC, and Admiral Vernon Clark, USN. At the time, they were both three-star flag officers and served in key positions on the staff. Both were strategic thinkers with stellar reputations as intelligent, honest, hard working, and selfless leaders who cared strongly not only for the mission but for their people. There was never a question that both men loved their country and were ready to do whatever needed to be done to get the mission accomplished. Their motivation was to serve not only their leaders and followers but their country and fellow countrymen.
Both of these gentlemen had similar leadership styles – a combination of servant leadership and transformational leadership. Servant leadership has been described as a style where the leader places others at the center instead of themselves and who view their task as serving others. A transformational leadership style is evident when the leader dismisses using their position or rank to get something done and “…instead attempts to motivate and mobilize followers by persuading them to take ownership of their roles in a more grand mission that is shared by all members of the organization.” There are some who would suggest these leadership styles are “touchy-feely” or not goal-oriented enough, but this is not the case. It should be noted that both these men were fiercely dedicated to the mission of national defense and their leadership style prompted others to emulate that dedication to the mission despite danger, family separation, low pay, and difficult living conditions. These two exemplary leaders each had 30+ years of service to their country. Through these years, there were countless examples of actions that personified the type of leader they were. An example from each helps to show their true colors.
Admiral Clark continued to excel after his tour on the Joint Staff and rose to become the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), the Navy’s top position, in July 2000. A quick review of his CNO guidance to his leaders demonstrates his commitment to the mission and to his people.
Winning the Global War on Terrorism is our number one priority… Last year I told you I wanted every leader to be evaluated on two things, their commitment to the growth and development of their people and above all to mission accomplishment…I want each of you to understand that mission accomplishment means both warfighting effectiveness and resourcefulness. It has been said that great leaders do the right thing, and great managers do things right—we need to do both…People remain at the heart of all we do; they are capital assets in our Navy. We have invested heavily to do what is right for our people. As we look to the future, we will build on the impressive progress we have made in recruiting, assigning, and retaining our military and civilian professionals. "Growth and development" is our byline and I expect every leader to be deeply involved in developing their shipmates. Active leadership is making it happen today and will do so in 2003.
Admiral Clark didn’t just talk the leadership talk – he walked the walk. In January 2002, he traveled half way around the world to reenlist sailors onboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt. His words following the ceremony demonstrated his commitment to his sailors, “I came out here to look you in the eye, and tell you something that I couldn't tell you if I just sent you a message. I came out here to look at you and tell you that the American people are so proud of what you're doing.”
General Pace also was clear in what he thought was important – the sailors, soldiers, marines, and airmen that he led in the nation’s highest military position. In 2007, while serving as the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS), he was told that he would not be renominated for the CJCS position. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates suggested to Pace that he voluntarily retire to reduce awkwardness with the Bush Administration. He refused. After a speech at the Joint Forces Staff College, he was asked why he did not voluntarily step down.
“I said I could not do it for one very fundamental reason, and that is that ‘Pfc. Pace’ in Baghdad should not think ever that his chairman, whoever that person is, could have stayed in the battle and voluntarily walked off the battlefield,” he said. Out of his sense of leadership, he could not even consider the idea, Pace said. Therefore, he did not submit his retirement papers until after it became publicly known that he was not going to be renominated. “The other piece for me personally was that some 40 years ago I left some guys on the battlefield in Vietnam who lost their lives following Second Lieutenant Pace,” he said. “I promised myself then that I will serve this country until I was no longer needed. I need to be told that I’m done. I’ve been told I’m done.”
Both Clark and Pace were motivated by love for country, their countrymen, and those they led. Their leadership styles clearly reflected and promoted achievement of their motives.
Not all successful military officers are necessarily good leaders. Most career officers have seen leaders “that eat their young” and wondered how it happens when a poor leader gets promoted or put into a position of power. Retired Green Beret Lt. Col. Mark Johnson noted, “Anyone can try to impress and fool the boss and peers and actually be successful doing it…But the true test, the true mark of your respect and character comes from below, not above.” What motivates this negative type of leadership style could range from anything from insecurity to over-confidence. An interesting case is that of Admiral Earnest J. King, who some consider one of the greatest Naval heroes of the 20th century.
Admiral King served as both the Commander in Chief and the Chief of Naval Operations in World War II. He was an extraordinarily intelligent risk-taker who quickly climbed the ranks after graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy. In a biography of King, Thomas Buell noted his primary motivation, “King had but one aim in his life during his first forty years of naval service; to become the Chief of Naval Operations…He made no secret of it. He would tell anyone who would listen…”
As his primary motivation was self-interest, it is not surprising to find that many subordinates found his leadership style abrasive and uncompromising. As the Navy Commander in Chief, King worked his staff to the point where there were illnesses including heart attacks and even a suicide. One officer who worked for King reported he did not tolerate errors and that “Censure was swift, devastating, and before a cloud of witnesses.” Another officer noted that filled rooms would clear out when he entered, “No one seemed to want to be where King was.”
Admiral King was an extraordinarily successful naval officer who contributed to the Navy mission, but his brusque leadership style was clearly not appreciated by his Sailors. It is interesting to ponder if King’s abrasive leadership style would have been tolerated in today’s environment where command climate is a consideration. As King’s motivation to become Chief of Naval Operations was so strong, today he may have very well adapted his leadership style into something more acceptable.
It is disturbing that 39 senior Navy leaders were relieved for professional or personal incidents or indiscretions in 2011. Equally concerning is so far in 2012, 26 senior Navy leaders have been fired. Sexual harassment, hazing, drunk driving, adultery, incompetence, inappropriate relationships, cruelty, and maltreatment are some of the behaviors that these leaders were fired for. It is unlikely that these leaders intentionally wanted to end their careers in disgrace. What was their motivation for this poor leadership behavior? Each of these leaders was required to go through leadership training before they took their positions – training that reinforced that any of these behaviors would most likely lead to dismissal for cause. Training that also highlighted the difficult spot that this type of dismissal put their family, their command, their Navy, and their country in.
Possible motives were personal gain, sexual gratification, and a quest for power. Other contributors included stupidity and poor judgment. These motivations contrast sharply against motivations such as service to country, service to fellow service members, and mission accomplishment. When a leader is committed and motivated to their mission and their people, they intentionally avoid situations that encourage or facilitate poor decision making.
Although less than one percent of commanding officers are relieved each year, it would be wise to remember these are only the ones who were caught and reported. How many sailors are out there trying to hold on and waiting for a transfer date for their boss or themselves? Besides the personal embarrassment to the leader and the Navy, there are significant costs to the taxpayer for these leadership failures. One of the primary symptoms of dysfunctional leadership behavior is lower productivity due to low morale. Gallup estimates it can cost an organization approximately 1/3 of its payroll cost. Additionally, retention can be negatively affected resulting in increased costs for the Navy. Then there is the obvious cost of having to find and train qualified reliefs for those who are dismissed.
One solution may be to go through these cases and analyze what were the motives of the leader that prompted the incident or incidents that ended their careers? When we understand one’s motives, we can better understand their behavior. And could an analysis of leadership styles help to predict poor behavior? If so, who would be best to conduct an analysis of leadership styles?
A study on destructive leadership behavior in the Swedish military was recently completed which could have bearing on this problem. The study provided a survey to subordinates of military leaders and asked them to answer “How well do the following statements fit with regard to your immediate supervisor/commander?” Twenty statements were rated including: uses threats to get their way, has violent tendencies, put’s own needs ahead of the group, gives unclear instructions, etc. The survey could be completed in a short time and the results proved statistically reliable. This instrument also fits nicely into a 360-degree evaluation. Although some officers and senior enlisted would be threatened by a system such as this, those leaders who have the right motives and right leadership styles should welcome one. As Lt. Col. Mark Johnson noted it is easy to trick your leaders and peers into thinking you are a great leader. It is not so easy to trick your subordinates – our service members are smart and know a good leader when they see one.
Personal motivations do impact leadership styles for the simple reason that in order to get what they want people naturally adopt those characteristics that will help them achieve their goal. When motivations fall outside of the Navy’s core values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment, leadership styles also fall outside of the acceptable boundaries the Navy has tried to instill not only through its leadership training but culture as well.
About the author:
Captain Jeanne McDonnell (ret.) served in the U.S. Navy for 25 years. Command assignments included Naval Support Activity Norfolk, Naval Administrative Command, and Transient Personnel Unit Norfolk. She also served in the Pentagon on the Joint Staff and Navy Staff. Jeanne has a Masters Degree in Education from Old Dominion University and another in Military Studies from U.S. Marine Corps University. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in Strategic Leadership at Regent University.
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 Brusman, Maynard. "Emotionally Intelligent Leadership Styles - Leaders Inner Motivations." EzineArticles. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Aug 2012.
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 Kouzes, J. and Posner, B. The Truth about Leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2010. 138. Print.
 Phillips, Donald. Lincoln on Leadership. New York, NY: Business Plus, 1992. 172. Print.
 Clark, Vernon. "CNO Guidance for 2003." Global Security. Global Security, 24 January 2003. Web. 25 Aug 2012.
 Clark, Vernon. United States. U.S. Navy . All Hands Call aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). 2002. Web. <http://www.navy.mil/navydata/cno/clark/speeches/clark-tr020115.txt>.
 Garamone, Jim. "Pace Pledges His Best Through End of Term." American Forces Press Service [Norfolk, VA] 15 June 2007, n. pag. Web. 25 Aug. 2012.
 Johnson, Mark. Lessons in Leadership: Straight Talk from a Green Beret. Dallas, TX: Brown Books Publishing Company, 2005. 111. Print.
 Buell, Thomas. Master of Sea Power. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company, 1980. xx. Print.
 Ibid., pg 91.
 Ibid., pg 232.
 "Commanding officer, XO and senior enlisted firings." Navy Times [Springfield, VA] 3 July 2012, Web. 22 Aug. 2012. <http://www.navytimes.com/news/2012/07/navy-2012-co-xo-cmc-firings-list/>.
 Tavanti, Marco. "Managing Toxic Leaders: Dysfunctional Patterns." BEPRESS.Com. DePaul University, Jun 2011. Web. 26 Aug 2012.
 Gerry Larsson, Maria Fors Brandebo, Sofia Nilsson, (2012),"Destrudo-L: Development of a short scale designed to measure destructive leadership behaviours in a military context," Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol.33 Iss: 4 pp. 383 - 400
 Johnson, Mark. Lessons in Leadership: Straight Talk from a Green Beret. Dallas, TX: Brown Books Publishing Company, 2005. 111. Print.
The Navy – it’s not just a job, it’s an adventure! Get technical training, see the world, earn educational benefits, and be part of the fight against global terrorism! These are just a few of the reasons people are motivated to join the Navy. The Navy experience varies from sailor to sailor causing some to leave the Navy after a few years and others to make it a career. After their duty sJeanne M. McDonnell Articles
Think about Oz and the love you may have for the 1939 movie or the 1900 book portraying the story of the Wizard of Oz. Or, you may have read one or more of the thirteen Oz sequels written by L. Frank Baum (1856-1919). But, few realize that there are a set of lessons for developing leadership abilities based on the story’s content and the history, life, and times of the story’s creative and entrepreneurial author—a man who served in roles as actor, breeder of rare chickens, director, gardener, lyricist, merchant, movie producer, philatelist, photographer, playwright, printer and newspaper publisher, salesman, theater manager, window dresser, and, of course, celebrated author. Enter The Way of Oz: A Guide for Wisdom, Heart, and Courage and its roadmap for leadership development and travels down the yellow brick road of life.
Now, imagine the characters of Oz bearing special symbolism for learning, loving, serving, focusing on the future, and humility. You might imagine the associations: the Scarecrow for wisdom and learning, the Tin Woodman for heart or loving, the Cowardly Lion for courage and service, Dorothy for leadership and a focus on the future, and the Wizard for humility and related virtues. For the purposes of this short essay let’s focus on Dorothy and her character as a metaphor for a future focus and leadership. At end we’ll see how a focus on the future and leadership are tied inextricably to the characteristics imbedded of the other major players of the Wizard of Oz masterpiece.
Dorothy in The Way of Oz is the leadership person—the character with a focus on the future—the character who brings out the best in others through understanding, heart and her own courage—all cast in a spirit of kindness and service. And, with Dorothy’s savvy about personal and institutional planning, diversity, sustainability, scientific and political understanding, and personal responsibility—she is a character who makes significant differences in the lives of others—men, women and creatures alike! Dorothy in The Way of Oz also knows how to detect and deter life’s wicked witches, both of the internal (e.g., self-doubt, imposter syndrome) and external (e.g., aggressive, manipulative and envious co-workers, friends or family members) varieties.
Through The Way of Oz, we learn about Dorothy’s approach to personal planning, involving integrated learning and scholarship, personal environmental scanning, selective volunteerism—all while drawing on the wisdom of teachers and mentors, and connecting learning and wisdom through caring and service.
The 21st Century Dorothy also understands institutional strategic planning and its components: vision, mission, environmental context, goals and objectives (directed through implementation strategies and articulated challenges), group oversight and shared understanding, and benchmarking integrated with periodic reporting and results-driven revisions of plans.
In The Way of Oz, Dorothy accentuates the best in colleagues and institutions through her understanding of the mosaic model of diversity and the importance of science and political insight for developing policy and actions related to sustainability. She is also wise in her comprehension of secular democracies and their power to serve our worldwide community.
On the “personal responsibility front,” Dorothy of The Way of Oz is empowered by determination, persistence, priority consciousness, critical thinking, and complex reasoning—all with ethics in the lead. She is also able to manage life’s time—systematically and sensibly.
Our modern Dorothy’s focus on the future is powerful because it is cast through an archetypal story written by a man who, despite his foibles and frailties, knew how to relate to others in unique ways. In other words, Frank Baum made a difference and The Way of Oz can make a difference in many peoples’ lives—particularly in the area of leadership development.
Thus, the Way of Oz approach to leading, involving personal planning, integrated learning and scholarship, personal environmental scanning, and selective volunteerism, fortified by organizational strategic planning, an understanding of diversity, science and political insight to guide decisions about sustainability, and personal responsibility—all with ethics in lead—prepares one for a life of personal and professional fulfillment. These elements of the Way of Oz and the new book of the same name—enriched by the creative graphics of Dusty Higgins and video content portraying leadership roles of students, faculty, and staff in universities as one segment of society—can make a significant difference in lives of seekers and future leaders of our world community. Many have found—in these thoughts—the true magic of The Way of Oz. Consider joining us!
Below are the main characters in The Way of Oz as conceived by Dusty Higgins. See if you can identify them all?
About the author:
Robert V. Smith serves as Provost and Senior Vice President at Texas Tech University (TTU). He has oversight responsibility for fourteen colleges and schools, along with the libraries and several other academically related units and programs.
He is the author or co-author of more than 320 articles and nine books. The Way of Oz: A Guide to Wisdom, Heart, and Courage (Texas Tech University Press, 2012) is available in hard cover, paperback, and electronic versions in all electronic formats. You can find out more about Robert Smith and his book at http://www.thewayofoz.com/index.htm
This material is copyright protected. No part of this document may be reproduced, in any form or by any means without permission from weLEAD Incorporated. Copyright waiver may be acquired from the weLEAD website.
Think about Oz and the love you may have for the 1939 movie or the 1900 book portraying the story of the Wizard of Oz. Or, you may have read one or more of the thirteen Oz sequels written by L. Frank Baum (1856-1919). But, few realize that there are a set of lessons for developing leadership abilities based on the story’s content and the history, life, and times of the story’s creativeRobert V. Smith Articles
If you ask any historian to name the greatest leaders in western civilization, there's a good chance the 16th president of the United States will make the list. He willed his country to victory in the gut-wrenching Civil War, issued the Emancipation Proclamation and facilitated the eventual ratification of the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery.
A number of traits contributed to Abraham Lincoln's greatness. He possessed a brilliant intellect. He had an uncommon amount of common sense. He was a thinker, someone who philosophically examined the world and crafted a rationalized set of personal beliefs by which he steadfastly lived.
While he was blessed with many talents, Lincoln's greatest attribute may have been his ability to communicate. He was a skilled orator who eloquently wrote many of his own speeches. He listened sincerely when others spoke. He empathized. He mastered the art of interpersonal communications several decades before the term "interpersonal communications" was coined.
It wouldn't be a stretch to credit Lincoln as one of history's greatest communicators. But of all the communications techniques he so successfully employed, there was one where he especially shone.
Abraham Lincoln was a remarkable storyteller.
Lincoln succeeded under some of the most difficult leadership conditions any U.S. president has had to face. To communicate is such times, he often resorted to stories. Instead of berating the incompetent generals who blundered in the Civil War's early battles, Lincoln educated and motivated them by using stories. To smooth over ruffled political feathers with members of Congress, Lincoln would pull out a story and use it to establish common ground.
Among history's eminent leaders, however, Lincoln was not unique in his reliance upon stories. Political leaders throughout the ages have moved the masses by using stories to communicate their political platforms. In modern days, big-time CEOs use storytelling to mobilize international staffs in the quest for billions of dollars of profit. Jesus Christ himself used parables and story-based lessons to enlighten his disciples.
Indeed, stories pack a punch. They're powerful. They paint pictures. They work, because our human brains are conditioned to listen to and be receptive to stories. Long before the written word, and long before Gutenberg invented the printing press, people used stories to communicate histories and traditions as well as norms and expectations. In other words, our ancestors sat around the fire every night and told stories. The propensity to tell and listen to stories is essentially a part of our DNA.
So, if people are so receptive to storytelling, you and I would be foolish not to use stories in our work. Good storytellers tend to be effective leaders and successful salespersons. If you manage people, teach them and motivate them by conveying important information through stories. If you sell products and services, use a story to paint a picture in your prospect's mind. By making the product or service part of a story, prospective clients mentally project themselves into the story. Once someone makes that kind of psychological commitment, they're much more likely to buy.
Let's say we asked the same prospective client to sit through two sales presentations for competing products. Both salespersons touched on features and benefits. Salesperson One was very straightforward and focused on delivering factual content. Salesperson Two was accurate but explained the features and benefits using stories. A couple of the stories were about previous clients who enjoyed positive results from using the product. I guarantee the second salesperson has a higher likelihood of landing the client.
One of the most important skills in sales is the ability to overcome objections. Well, if you get an objection, tell a story to keep the deal alive. Are you ready to deliver your close? Make it more desirable by couching it inside a story. Has the process become mired? Advance it by telling a story.
Whether you are managing a staff, selling a service, delivering a speech, trying to persuade voters to elect you or attempting to resolve a conflict between two of your colleagues, make it easier by spinning a yarn. Stories reassure people and disarm them.
As you make a commitment to including more stories in your daily work, keep a couple things in mind:
1. Stories must be relative to the situation at hand.
2. Know when to shut up. If a story goes on too long, it loses its effectiveness
3. Think about the work you do and determine what kinds of stories could be effective in certain situations.
4. Catalog stories in your mind. Look back on your own experiences as well as the experiences of your colleagues. Make a list of stories to have at your disposal, so you can use them whenever it's expedient.
Every product, service, business and person has a story, probably multiple stories. The trick is to pull out these stories and use them to your benefit at the appropriate times. After all, if President Lincoln used stories to save a country, we would be wise to use them to save our businesses and careers.
About the author:
Jeff Beals is an award-winning author, who helps professionals do more business and have a greater impact on the world through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques.You can learn more and follow his "Business Motivation Blog" at www.JeffBeals.com
This material is copyright protected. No part of this document may be reproduced, in any form or by any means without permission from weLEAD Incorporated. Copyright waiver may be acquired from the weLEAD website.
If you ask any historian to name the greatest leaders in western civilization, there's a good chance the 16th president of the United States will make the list. He willed his country to victory in the gut-wrenching Civil War, issued the Emancipation Proclamation and facilitated the eventual ratification of the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery. A number of traJeff Beals Articles
Abraham Lincoln had an uncanny ability to predict behavior. For example, when Lincoln was President, he told one of his associates how every member of Congress would vote on a particular bill. To make the point, he wrote down what their votes would be. Sure enough, when the votes were tallied, Lincoln was on target for virtually every vote cast.
How did he do this?
No magic or superhuman powers were involved. Lincoln used resources that are within the reach of anyone, and with a bit of practice, you can use them effectively, too.
In general, behavior can be predicted in terms of a person's interests, group identity, character, and unconscious needs. Entire books have been written on this subject, but here's a brief overview:
1. Interests. Interests have to do with one's own benefit or advantage; the focus is on the basic question, "What's in this for me?" If you're trying to predict a person's (or a group's) behavior, evaluate whether they will experience profit or loss, pleasure or pain from the outcome. Lincoln dealt mainly with politicians and lawyers, who habitually make these kinds of calculations. However, this approach is not foolproof because humans are more than human calculators. People sometimes behave irrationally--that is, they do not behave in their own best interests. So, you will have to include more than interests to become good at predictions.
2. Group Identity. What groups do the individuals belong to or identify with? Do they think of themselves as Republicans or Democrats, liberals or conservatives, independents, Christians, gang members, labor or management? Sociologists call this "reference-group behavior." Ralph Waldo Emerson, a contemporary of Lincoln whose work Lincoln knew about, wrote: "If I know your sect, I anticipate your argument." Lincoln certainly took political affiliation (i.e. "sect") into the aforementioned calculation. You can see this principle at work by looking at the party affiliation of the votes that are cast for particular bills in Congress. Whenever there is a deviation from sect affiliation, the decision will usually be based on interests.
3. Unconscious Needs. Sigmund Freud discovered that behavior is sometimes neither rational nor irrational, but arational. Lincoln, of course, lived long before Freud, and did not use this concept as such in his predictions. But if you want to become a skillful forecaster, be aware that some behavior will seem to come out of nowhere. The source may be memories of experiences that are buried deep in the individual's unconscious mind--buried, but not dead.
4. Character. Is the individual basically honest or dishonest, industrious or an idler, kind or a bully? An honest man may yield to temptation, but a dishonest man will look for it. An industrious man will take pride in his work. An idler will take pride in avoiding it. A kind man may be unkind, but regret it; a bully will be unkind and enjoy it.
Simply put, character is a blend of genetics and deeply rooted habits. Emerson wrote: "I suppose no man can violate his nature….A character is like an acrostic or Alexandrian stanza; read it forward, backward, or across, it still spells the same thing."
Lincoln's character was well known. Lincoln was Honest Abe. He got this name because people learned that if you dealt with Lincoln, he would not deceive you or cheat you.
If you want to predict behavior, do what Lincoln did, and observe carefully to see if the person is basically honest or deceitful, a giver or a taker, diligent or careless. Once you understand a person's character, you will seldom be surprised by their behavior.
One quick story about character. Once there was a scorpion that wanted to cross a river. Seeing a frog, the scorpion asked the frog if he could ride on his back across the river.
"I can't do that," replied the frog, "because if you rode on my back, you would sting me and I would die."
"Why would I sting you?" answered the scorpion. "It is not in my best interest to sting you. If I stung you, we would both drown."
"That's true," said the frog, who then allowed the scorpion to climb on his back.
In the middle of the river, the frog felt a sharp sting in his back.
"Why have you stung me," screamed the frog in pain. "It is not in your best interest to sting me."
Replied the scorpion: "Because it is my nature to sting. You knew what I was when you let me ride on your back."
About the author:
Gene Griessman is a professional speaker, executive coach, and author of The Words Lincoln Lived By and co-author of Lincoln Speaks To Leaders: 20 Powerful Lessons From America's 16th President, with Pat Williams and Peggy Matthews Rose. Griessman's website is http://www.presidentlincoln.com.
Abraham Lincoln had an uncanny ability to predict behavior. For example, when Lincoln was President, he told one of his associates how every member of Congress would vote on a particular bill. To make the point, he wrote down what their votes would be. Sure enough, when the votes were tallied, Lincoln was on target for virtually every vote cast.Gene Griessman, Ph.D. Articles
One Leader's Perspective
The greatest complement I have ever read was directed toward Thomas Jefferson. President John F. Kennedy was speaking at a White House dinner given to honor Nobel Prize winners throughout the Western Hemisphere. Kennedy looked out over the distinguished guests and stated that they were “the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”
Thomas Jefferson was an original American patriot. His personal views on individual freedom and religious liberty has greatly inspired many political leaders around the world for over 200 years. We typically think of Jefferson as a man who achieved many outstanding accomplishments in his lifetime. Indeed, he is known as the 3rd President of the United States and author of the American Declaration of Independence. Less known are his other lifetime achievements, including Virginia State Governor, American Vice President, Secretary of State, Ambassador, architect, inventor, philosopher and founder of the University of Virginia. Thomas Jefferson demonstrated a lifetime of vast achievement and leadership, yet few know his life was also filled with great personal challenges. All of us face obstacles and difficulties on almost a daily basis. But very few people realize the adversity Jefferson faced during the prime of his life. Yet, some of his most significant personal and public achievements were accomplished during these times of great personal sorrow! In briefly examining his life we can better appreciate his leadership qualities. His personal endurance can provide a few valuable lessons for us today.
As is true of all great leaders, Jefferson was not a perfect man. Like all human beings, he had a number of individual flaws and weaknesses. Recent DNA testing has established the strong possibility that he may have secretly fathered children through a slave named Sally Hemings. However, one cannot read about his life without appreciating how much he shaped the civil freedoms and religious liberties we cherish in our modern western world. Throughout history men of great governmental leadership have been rare. Jefferson was not born to lead. Most who met him described him as shy and one who attempted to avoid a prominent role. He often remarked how his only desire was to be left alone to farm at his beloved home called Monticello. However, historical destiny would provide other opportunities for him. As we will see, he developed leadership by first experiencing and learning followership. Before he became an effective leader, he first became a practical follower!
Thomas Jefferson was born in 1743. He was the son of a Welsh farmer who owned a large plantation in the British American colony of Virginia. Thomas was blessed to receive a good education and strong moral teachings from loving parents. From his father and his rural surroundings he acquired a lasting interest in the sciences and in education. He also developed a love for Greek and Latin at a young age. As a young adult, he attended the College of William and Mary in the early 1760’s. Jefferson eventually received his law degree in 1767. After he began his law practice, an interest in politics led him to be selected as a delegate to the Virginia House of Burgesses. The House of Burgesses was a colonial legislative assembly under the authority of the British appointed governor. Three years later, at age 29, he married a wealthy widow named Martha Wayles Skelton.
Jefferson was a reserved person by nature and spoke in a very soft voice. He was never considered eloquent in speech and gave few public speeches in his career. By today’s definition we would not say he had charismatic leadership. But those who spent time with him found his conversations and personality engaging. One of his earliest recognized talents was skillful writing and prose. In his lifetime, Jefferson wrote over 18,000 letters. This talent would serve him well throughout his lifetime. By the 1770’s the American colonies felt unfairly dominated by Great Britain. Delegates from these colonies assembled as a Congress to discuss their grievances and future relationship with Great Britain and its king. Jefferson was chosen to represent Virginia at the 2nd Continental Congress in 1775. By the time of the 2nd Continental Congress, his previously published writings on the "rights of people from tyranny" had already caught the attention of many other delegates to the Congress.
At the young age of 33 years old Jefferson was asked to be the junior member of a committee whose task it was to draft the American Declaration of Independence. He served with two notable individuals whose senior status and outspoken manner made them prominent leaders in the Congress. They were John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. Being a junior member of the committee, Jefferson resisted writing the draft and suggested that Adams create it. Reputedly it was John Adams who convinced the younger Jefferson to construct the document. He told Jefferson there were three reasons why he should write the document. Reason one was that Jefferson was a Virginian and Adams thought a representative from a southern colony like Virginia should “appear at the head of this business.” Reason two, Adams continued is that “I am obnoxious, suspected and unpopular. You are very much other wise.” Reason three Adams opined is “You can write ten times better than I can.”
Jefferson completed his draft in late June of 1776. He was about to learn a valuable lesson in followership. Being a talented young man and gifted in writing, he was naturally proud of his draft document. First his original draft was amended when both Adams and Franklin made alterations with their own handwriting on Jefferson’s draft. The committee presented it to Congress on June 28th of 1776. The debate on the Declaration began on July 1st and lasted three days. Jefferson sat and watched the Congress considerably alter his document as presented by the committee. The Congress cut about a quarter of the text, polished some of the wording, and made some substantive changes. Jefferson later wrote how painful and humbling it was to experience this debate. He felt his original document was “mangled” by the Congress. This was a powerful lesson in followership for Jefferson. Oftentimes the best efforts of followers may not be what are most needed or expedient for a given situation. Wise followers accept this fact and continue to make significant contributions to the organization because they want what is best for the organization rather than their own ego! Through this painful experience Jefferson learned about the difficulty of working with other powerful or dogmatic personalities. He learned about the value of building consensus and accepting rejection. Today Jefferson is rightly credited as the author of the Declaration of Independence, yet few people comprehend how he learned to be a follower within the Congress.
The American Colonies revolted and went to war. Jefferson was a legislator and Governor of the state of Virginia. In 1782, Jefferson became a member of the newly formed Congress of the United States, and in 1784 he was named the American ambassador to France. This decade of his life was one of tremendous accomplishment. As a legislator he had instituted many social reforms to protect individual rights and the use of private property. As a member of Congress he played a pivotal role in the establishment of a new nation. He was influential in guaranteeing that no one church would become the official state religion of the United States or receive state financing. He risked his personal life and wealth for the principles he believed in. His leadership accomplishments are impressive. However, they are all the more astounding when we realize what else was going on in his life!
This same decade of his life would also bring about a number of personal tragedies. In 1773 his father-in-law died. Shortly afterward his best childhood friend died suddenly leaving a wife and six children. The next year his first daughter Jane was born, but she would die 18 months later when Jefferson was 31 years old. In 1776, his mother died unexpectedly at age 57. One year later Jefferson’s first son was born and died within a few hours of birth. In 1781 a series of personal trials occurred. First, the British army invaded Virginia and captured his beloved Monticello. Jefferson barely escaped capture by the army. He broke his left wrist while being thrown from a horse. Also during this year, his reputation was damaged when his political enemies convinced the Virginia State Assembly to investigate his conduct as governor of Virginia. The very next year, his wife Martha died just a few months after giving birth to their daughter Lucy Elizabeth. On her deathbed she made him promise never to marry again. Jefferson was now only 39 years old and he kept his promise to Martha. Though he would live another 43 years, he never did marry again.
Most of us would certainly agree that Thomas Jefferson experienced many distressing personal trials during this 10-12 year period. But, sad to say, that was not all! At age 41, he witnessed the death of his daughter Lucy Elizabeth, who died of “whooping cough”. One year later, he stumbled while walking and broke his right wrist. It was not set properly and he suffered pain in this wrist for the rest of his life. During various times of his life he also suffered from prolonged migraine headaches that almost incapacitated him. Another worry he experienced was mounting debt problems for allowing his farm to deteriorate while he served his country in various roles. Remember, all these events were happening while Jefferson was involved in the leadership of founding and managing a fragile new nation. History has recorded all of his many achievements during theses very years when these personal trials were occurring in his life. Few understand what was going on in his private life. He suffered more distressing personal trials than many of us have. However, Jefferson is not remembered for his trials, but for his accomplishments as a powerful and effective leader.
Jefferson had a great leadership quality that set him apart from many others. He did not allow the difficult circumstances of life to crush his inner spirit or his desire to serve others who called upon him for help. Yes, like all of us he could become very discouraged. Upon the death of his wife he remarked to others that he even wanted to end his life. He certainly hurt, mourned, and experienced depression and sadness like most of us. Yet he was able to reach deep inside, shake off these natural emotions and go forward. Jefferson was a lot like another great political figure that arose in the 20th century. Winston Churchill shared this same quality with Jefferson. It is Churchill who roared…”Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never – in nothing great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.”
Thomas Jefferson was able to endure great personal hardship in life because he was a man of purpose. He viewed life as an opportunity to explore the universe and gain knowledge about the wonderful world around him. He wrote the following statement in 1786 that revealed his zest for life even with all of its trials and obstacles. “Hence the inestimable value of intellectual pleasures...Ever in our power, always leading us to something new, never cloying, we ride, serene and sublime, above the concerns of this mortal world, contemplating truth and nature, matter and motion, the laws which bind up their existence, and the Eternal being who made and bound them up by these laws. Let this be our employ.” It is obvious from his many writings and he had an enthusiasm for life, knowledge and exploration. Another positive leadership quality he possessed was an interest in manydiverse subjects and ideas. He was not obsessed with a single narrow interest, but had many individual interests. Those who met him were astounded at his interest and knowledge in all the sciences and humanities. Some of his numerous hobbies included gardening and practical household inventions. These hobbies helped to refresh his mind and add spice to his life. What a contrast to many leaders today who are so narrow minded or heavily focused on a single issue they leave their followers remarking that they “need a life”!
A reason Jefferson may have been able to overcome personal tragedy and hardship was his rather unique religious beliefs. He was not an eager supporter of the organized religion of his day. Yet it was Jefferson who refers to God three times in the American Declaration of Independence. Some have labeled him a “deist” and some of his political enemies even claimed he was irreligious. The truth is that Jefferson was a deeply religious man in a nontraditional way. He was a firm believer in religious freedom and rejected the traditional views and doctrines of most churches that existed during his time. Feeling that some had distorted the original teachings of Jesus Christ, Jefferson assembled only the words of Christ out of the four gospels and created a book now known as theJefferson Bible. This was the book he took to bed with him to end his day. In a letter he wrote to John Adams, he stated that he read this book for “an hour or a half’s...reading of something moral whereon to ruminate in the intervals of sleep.” Jefferson is not alone among great leaders who drew upon their religious principles or values during times of turmoil and instability.
Thomas Jefferson died on July 4th, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. His final letters to fellow patriot John Adams and many other friends reveal a man who had mellowed and changed through a lifetime of experiences and personal suffering. Even his final years offer us a valuable lesson in leadership. Near the end of his life Jefferson renewed his friendship with the elder John Adams. For many years they had not been friends. After the revolution and founding of the United States both had become bitter political adversaries. On many issues they were on opposite ends. They grew apart and for many years never communicated directly. However, both leaders deeply understood an important leadership principle. Don’t make political or organizational differences personal! People are more important than programs. Friendship should transcend policy. Both men made an effort to renew their past association and truly became friends. In their later years it gave these two sages an opportunity to discuss their views and differences on political theory and philosophy in a 15 year long letter writing campaign.
Examining the life of Jefferson is a study of the qualities of great leadership. From the writing of the Declaration of Independence to the purchase of Louisiana territory, he was willing to undertake personal risk and responsibility. In accepting the many poorly paid political offices he served, Jefferson sacrificed many years of productive farming and his wealth. He envisioned America as potentially greater than it was and did what he could to make the promise of America a reality. He dedicated his entire adult life to the pursuit of reason that government should serve its citizens and not be their master.
Thank you Mr. Jefferson!
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About the author:
Greg has over 20 years of sales and marketing experience within the electrical distribution industry. Some of his positions have included being a National Sales Manager, National Marketing Manager and for the past 9 years that of Regional Sales Manager. He also has extensive experience in public speaking and has written articles for various publications. In August of 2000, Greg completed his studies for a Master of Arts degree in Leadership from Bellevue University. He is the founder of weLEAD Incorporated.
Brodie, Fawn, (1974) Thomas Jefferson – An Intimate History. New York: Bantam Books
Cunningham, Noble, (1987) In Pursuit of Reason – The Life of Thomas Jefferson. Baton Rouge, Louisiana:
Louisiana State University Press
Ellis, Joseph, (1997) American Sphinx – The Character of Thomas Jefferson. New York: Alfred A. Knoft (Random House)
One Leader's Perspective The greatest complement I have ever read was directed toward Thomas Jefferson. President John F. Kennedy was speaking at a White House dinner given to honor Nobel Prize winners throughout the Western Hemisphere. Kennedy looked out over the distinguished guests and stated that they were “the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that haGreg L.Thomas Articles
Leadership is about the way you perceive and treat yourself and how you perceive and treat others. Personal leadership involves the former; social and organizational leadership involves the latter. The two are interrelated.
Each of us has a unique, complex “thinking system” which has developed since birth. This complex system is believed to actually be a composite of several more fundamental thinking systems layered one on top of the other. Our “worldview” is the totality of our conception of what this complex, fragmented world is like. Our worldview is a composite of our cognitive style, genetic makeup, memory, mental models or paradigms, assumptions, vision of the future, and the fusion of factual and value premises. Our personal worldview plays a major role in determining outcomes in our personal lives. Our collective worldview plays a major role in determining outcomes in our organizations and institutions. This is often described as the “See-Do-Get” cycle. How we “see the world” determines “what we do,” and “what we do” determines “what we get” as an outcome.
Dr. Stephen Covey states that all things are created twice. There is a “first creation,” which is of the mind, and a “second creation,” which is the physical manifestation of the first creation. For instance, a blueprint is the first creation and the building is the second creation. Our attitudes and behaviors flow from our worldview.
Each of us filters the information we receive about the world through our worldview to determine what we consider truth. Our personal worldview will change and become more complex as we grow older and mature. Collective worldviews can follow the same pattern of maturation. (Albert Einstein understood this when he observed, “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”)
Our worldview is our mind’s way of dealing with what Dr. Michael Armour calls the “Four Big C’s”: Change, Complexity, Confusion, and Conflict. As we grow older, and our worldview can no longer sufficiently cope with the four C’s, we may experience a paradigm shift to a higher system of thinking. The mind activates more complex systems of thinking to cope with new problems. Rather than totally replacing our old worldview with a new one, we actually integrate parts of our old worldview with the new.
The perception you have of yourself is part of your worldview. It involves such issues as your personal accountability, values that matter most to you, your personal mission in life, and the importance of self-discipline. It also defines what you must do to hedge against leading an inconsequential life.
The answer to important life issues will depend on your maturity level. It is generally recognized that lower levels of maturity exhibit extremely self-serving worldviews. The worldview of an infant, for example, is totally self-centered. The end result of an infant’s worldview is a life consisting of a series of short-term reactions to physiological needs (such as nourishment, warmth, etc.). As the maturity of an individual increases, there is a shift from reactivity to proactivity. Proactivity means that our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions. (Dr. Stephen Covey’s Habit 1 deals with this thoroughly.) Higher levels of maturity demonstrate consideration for others and self-sacrifice.
Different people stop reconstructing their worldview at different maturity levels, thus creating the incredible diversity of thought we see in our world today. We must understand that there are no “right” or “wrong” worldviews. Each of us has a unique worldview. However, there are similar worldview patterns that result in similar pursuits and standards of conduct.
Since our worldview determines how we lead others and ourselves, there is also a great deal of diversity of thought regarding leadership. Leadership models can be viewed along a continuum. At one end of the continuum the power model, with its authoritarian style, can be found. At this end of the continuum we find a top-down, command-and-control pyramid approach, with powerful decision-makers at the top. At the other end of the continuum is where we find servant leadership and similar leadership models. At this end of the continuum we find a worldview that sees the world as an interdependent reality where people are treated with respect in a totally egalitarian manner.
The purpose of the mission often determines the use of a given model. For instance, an authoritarian, command and control model of leadership may be very effective for stopping something, destroying something, or conquering something, such as an enemy during a war. The military has used the power leadership model for millennia very effectively. It is a leadership model that is hard-nosed and aggressive in style. The power model of leadership often involves the formation of privileged classes, strict hierarchy, turf protection, intimidation, and rank. Unfortunately, one can find many examples of the inappropriate use of this model of leadership today in corporations, government agencies, and churches. It is interesting to note that modern military organizations use a variety of leadership models to deal with the numerous complex roles they play in our modern world.
If the objective or mission is to build an organization dedicated to service (such as public service, customer service, or serving a congregation), empowerment, creativity, and the growth and maturing of individuals, then the power model of leadership is highly inappropriate. A leadership model based on a totally different system of thinking should be considered.
Our worldview determines our belief regarding whether the power model or servant leadership model is ever a legitimate approach. Our worldview also determines when we think it would be appropriate for us to use either model of leadership. Unfortunately, some worldviews see only one model as appropriate for all situations. As Abraham Maslow said, “He that is good with a hammer tends to think everything is a nail.” Other worldviews acknowledge the servant leadership model as legitimate, but attempt to implement it using authoritarian and patriarchal methods. Addressing this problem, Peter Block states, “the very system that has patriarchy as the root problem uses patriarchal means to try to eliminate its symptoms. This is the dark side of leadership.”
The servant leadership model is not new. However, Robert Greenleaf, who died in 1990, is considered to be the father of modern servant leadership ideas that have recently grown in popularity. Greenleaf was a lifelong student of organization and retired as Director of Management Research at AT&T. He also held a joint appointment as visiting lecturer at M.I.T’s Sloan School of Management and at the Harvard Business School. In addition, he held teaching positions at both Dartmouth College and the University of Virginia.
Greenleaf said that servant leadership is about making the people around you to grow as persons, to be healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, and more likely themselves to become servants. Servant leaders facilitate the growth of others along a maturity continuum—to greater and greater levels of maturity.
Although Robert Greenleaf is considered the father of the modern servant leadership model, no single perspective is complete. Rather than thinking of Greenleaf’s description of servant leadership as a single model, one might view it as a portal into a whole new universe of models based on certain fundamental principles. Other leadership thinkers such as Senge, Block, DePree, and Covey give us additional important insights into this universe.
Servant leadership manifests itself in different ways in different organizations. For instance, the fun-loving antics of Southwest Airlines (www.southwest.com) probably would not fit the more conservative culture of a major financial organization like Synovus Financial Corporation (www.synovus.com). Yet both organizations base their organizational culture on the servant leadership principles articulated by Greenleaf. Both companies consistently appear in the Fortune “100 Best Companies To Work For” list, and both have been the number one company on the list (http://www.fortune.com/fortune/bestcompanies).
Some think that the servant leadership model is too soft and doesn’t recognize the political nature of organizations and institutions. Nothing could be further from the truth. Where there is power there will always be politics. What the servant leadership model does is reshape the political environment so that political power is used to protect and build people, rather than keep them in a state of dependency. It deals with the reality of political power and its legitimate and ethical use. However, while protecting people from danger, servant leaders also expose them to a greater awareness of reality. That is why servant leadership can be so dangerous in some organizations. Challenging the power model of leadership is not just challenging a leadership style. It is challenging a worldview—a belief system—that provides control, consistency, and predictability to those in power.
John F. “Jack” Welch (www.ge.com/news/welch/index.htm), 20 year Chairman and CEO of General Electric, and one of the most highly regarded leaders in the business world today, once said that management is “looking reality straight in the eye and then acting upon it with as much speed as you can.” Robert Greenleaf said, “Awareness is not a giver of solace — it is just the opposite. It is a disturber and an awakener. Able leaders are usually sharply awake and reasonably disturbed. They are not seekers after solace. They have their own serenity.”
Servant leadership involves a mature worldview that chooses service over self-interest. Mature people recognize joint accountability. Achieving a high level of interdependence requires a culture where leaders listen first, and listen intently and for understanding. The job of the servant leader is to listen, to identify, and to clarify what the organization is saying. This level of listening requires more than just hearing. To the servant leader listening means a genuine willingness to be influenced by those you serve.
Servant leadership also involves developing an organizational culture that exhibits a high level of trust. Trust is dependent on having trustworthy people. Trustworthy people are principled and “walk their talk.” This is why personal leadership success precedes organizational leadership success. (Dr. Stephen Covey calls these two leadership successes the “private victory” and “public victory.” He says that private victories must precede public victories.) This “inside-out” approach is captured in the saying; “I cannot call myself your servant until I can call myself my master.” Self-mastery is essential for successful personal leadership. You cannot successfully lead others under the servant leadership model until you have first achieved a certain level of personal leadership mastery and internal synergy.
Practicing servant leadership within an organization means performing acts which help people remove the obstacles in their way—and helping them acquire the tools and resources they need to do their jobs better. It means jumping into the trenches and being willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. It means leading by example. It means lightening the load of another. It means being willing to do whatever you ask others to do. It means leveling hierarchies. It means not only being a boss, but also a friend. It means listening to those served to find out what they really need you to do for them, rather than deciding yourself what is best for them.
Just because one serves, and has a leadership position, does not make that person a true servant leader. Robert Greenleaf says that a true servant leader is servant first. Others may aspire first to become a leader and then to serve, or to aspire to serve in a manner that is patriarchal and controlling. However, a true servant leader is one that exhibits very specific characteristics. Larry Spears, Executive Director of The Greenleaf Center for Servant-Leadership (www.greenleaf.org), has identified 10 critical characteristics that a servant leader should exhibit. These ten are by no means complete, but do communicate important aspects of this leadership model. The ten characteristics are:
9. Commitment to the growth of people
10. Building community
In describing servant leadership to another, it is recognized that the listener is always filtering and interpreting what is being said based on their current worldview. Truly understanding the servant leadership model may require a paradigm shift from old ways of thinking. It may require discarding old assumptions. It may require viewing the world differently. To accomplish this it will be necessary to be vulnerable, to listen for understanding, to respect differences in perspective, and to receive personal feedback from others. Only then will you be able to effectively examine and modify your assumptions, values, and paradigms–your worldview.
The servant leadership model cannot be achieved with a “quick-fix” approach. It cannot be instilled quickly within an organization. The transformation of the worldviews of individuals that make up an organization is a long-term, continuous effort. The decision to pursue the servant leadership model is certainly a matter of organizational strategy, but at its core it is a matter of personal choice. Is servant leadership a part of your worldview?
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About the author:
Dr. J. Howard Baker is Assistant Professor of Computer Information Systems at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Last year Dr. Baker taught an Honors Seminar at ULM, which included a field trip to the top servant leadership companies in America. Dr. Baker has been a Franklin Covey 7 Habits of Highly Effective People certified facilitator for seven years, and has served the University of Texas at Tyler as their facilitator for four years. During the summer he offers a graduate and undergraduate course at U. T. Tyler in personal and organizational leadership. He holds a B.S. in Management from Samford University, a Master of Accounting (MAcc) from the University of Southern California, and a Ph.D. in Information Systems from the University of Texas at Arlington.
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Barker, Joel. Paradigms, The Business of Discovering the Future. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1992.
Block, Peter. Stewardship: Choosing Service Over Self-Interest. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 1993.
Covey, Stephen R. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Restoring the Character Ethic. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1989.
Covey, Stephen R. Principle-Centered Leadership. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991.
DePree, Max. Leadership Jazz. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
Greenleaf, Robert K. Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness. New York: Paulist Press, 1977.
Rinehart, Stacy T. Upside Down: The Paradox of Servant Leadership. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1998.
Senge, Peter. The Dance of Change: The Challenges to Sustaining Momentum in Learning Organizations. New York: Doubleday, 1999.
Spears, Larry, editor. Reflections on Leadership: How Robert K. Greenleaf’s Theory of Servant-Leadership Influenced Today’s Top Management Thinkers. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1995.
Leadership is about the way you perceive and treat yourself and how you perceive and treat others. Personal leadership involves the former; social and organizational leadership involves the latter. The two are interrelated. Each of us has a unique, complex “thinking system” which has developed since birth. This complex system is believed to actually be a composite ofDr. J. Howard Baker Articles
I remember my first project as a newly promoted project manager. While I had received academic training in business administration and economics, I had begun my career among the technical ranks. My promotion to project manager was largely due to my ability to code programs in CICS assembler, Cobol, and at the time the newly emerging programming languages called “4GLs”. What I soon found out was that technical roles do little to prepare a person to advance into a management level position. I was not yet aware of the leadership required interacting with a team. In many ways a technical person is even hindered from making such a transition.
There are stages that a person with a technical background will visit while transitioning into management. The first stop is typically project management, the natural progression for a person who has spent considerable time as a successful project team member. A successful experience in project management may eventually lead to the next stage of a senior staff management position such as a department head, divisional manager or even vice president. It is during the first stage, project management that a technical person begins to encounter the issues that arise when making the transition into management. How well one adapts and begins to demonstrate leadership will likely determine the pace at which they progress through management.
In my experience I have witnessed many people make the same transition that I made, moving from programmer, to analyst, to project manager (PM, as we call it), to department head. Some succeeded, but many if not most either failed or became average PMs. The ingrained habit of personally defining specifications, designing and implementing solutions, and solving technical problems becomes a hurdle to overcome during the transition to management. In short, it is difficult for a “hands on” person to suddenly find themselves “hands off” in a similar way that a new coach finds it difficult to stay off the field. Here are some tips to help a “propeller head” traverse the path to project management.
Jump ahead – define the objective
When I found myself a project manager for the first time I was shocked to find that I had no idea how to get started. I knew how to execute but had never planned, motivated, and driven a project as the PM. I knew how to enter information into a project plan but could not seem to get the project off the ground. What was being required of me were the essential qualities expected of a leader. Frustrated and struggling, I sought advice from a seasoned PM in my company. He advised me simply to, “jump ahead of them and they will follow you”. Good advice and still effective. How do you jump ahead? By defining the project in terms of the overall objectives and benefits to the team members as well as clearly spelling out the roles, responsibilities and expectations. My mentor immediately helped me prepare a meeting to define the project objectives and assignments. My seasoned PM was telling me I needed to create a vision!
An important consideration when establishing an objective is its level of difficulty and how it could contribute to the team member’s need for achievement. If the objective is perceived to be too easy, the team member is not motivated. If the objective is perceived to be unattainable, the team member is again not motivated. It is only when the objective is perceived to be both challenging and attainable that motivation of the team is achieved.
Before the team can begin the project, they must know exactly what they are expected to do. Clearly articulated objectives, team participation in goal setting and action planning, and objectives that are challenging but attainable are the keys to driving a project team forward and maximizing performance. Key steps required to jump ahead as an effective leader include:
1. Define the project objectives and clearly communicate how successfully completing the project will benefit the company and the team members.
2. Working with each team member, determine his or her project role, responsibilities, and objectives.
3. For each team member, develop an action plan to achieve project objectives and ask the team member for his or her commitment.
4. Offer your confidence and support to the team member and set up a follow up time for progress review.
Stay at a high level
One of the first tasks that I assigned to myself as a new PM was to code several programs that needed to be developed by the project team. I was intending to help the other team members by being “one of them”. Not to mention that I enjoyed programming. Big mistake. When the coach grabs a helmet and lines up on the field there is no one coaching, adjusting the game plan to adapt to on-going changes, planning new plays, making the decision whether to go for it on fourth down, etc. But the urge for a technical person to delve back into the details is great. It is essential that the PM stay at a high level and direct the project or the project will go undirected. Change management, issue management, navigating obstacles, and leveraging the team by coaching the members is essential to success as a leader. In addition, there is momentum produced by team members as they progress on a project, achieving each milestone to completion. This energy is sapped as the leader interferes with or micromanages areas in which other team members are responsible.
One way to stay at a high level is to prepare a “project notebook” at the outset of the project. The project notebook will keep the PM at a 30,000-foot view. The project notebook contains all project documents, status reports, Gantt charts, project plans, issue logs, change control forms, etc. Constantly and accurately maintaining this information will force the manager to stay at a high level while also adding to his or her efficiency. Many companies possess web based software running on their intranet that will serve the same function as a repository for all project related documents and greatly enhance the usefulness of the information.
Leverage the team
Effective managers always lead with a coaching style. They find the key to leveraging other people in order to get a project completed successfully. And that key is to identify and maintain the proper balance between supporting employees at appropriate times when they need support and not intruding on the force they generate by self-reliance and self-direction. Leaders with a technical background tend to want to direct others much like they directed themselves to achieve technical assignments. A technical person wants to “do it themselves”. Though unnatural at first, it will make management a great deal easier and will drive success more quickly if the technical person learns to leverage the team as contrasted in the following table.
Directing the team
Leveraging the team
Holds Back Information
Allows Less Autonomy
Allows More Autonomy
That first project that I had the opportunity to manage was a real learning experience about leadership. Having had primarily a technical background, I had not been prepared to let go and rely on others achieve success. Since then I have made it a practice to jump ahead immediately by defining the clear objectives, maintain a high level big-picture view, and leverage the talents and abilities of the team that I manage. In a nutshell, I have learned the value of providing a vision! And I haven’t coded a program in years.
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About the author:
Dave has over 17 years of experience in information technology, technology services and management. He has provided management and technical consulting to numerous Fortune 500 companies and is currently Senior Vice President of services for Computer Associates, International. He has a bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems and Economics from Bowling Green State University and an MBA in systems management from Baldwin Wallace College.
I remember my first project as a newly promoted project manager. While I had received academic training in business administration and economics, I had begun my career among the technical ranks. My promotion to project manager was largely due to my ability to code programs in CICS assembler, Cobol, and at the time the newly emerging programming languages called “4GLs”. What I sooDave Hooper Articles
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