Leaders Make All the Difference

Over the course of American history, great leaders have stepped forward in times of crisis to steer the nation forward. To name but a few;

  • George Washington emerged to lead the colonies in the fight for independence, then served as our First President. Putting the Nation ahead of personal power and prestige, Washington twice refused the seat of great power. First he resigned his commission as General of the Army to return to his farm (wherein King George opined that in refusing power after victory in the Revolutionary War—Washington was the “…greatest man who ever live”). He later refused a third term as President when asked to do so. As always, befitting his character he put the needs of the nation and her citizens above his own.
  • Abraham Lincoln led the nation through the turbulence of the Civil War and abolition of slavery. He assumed the Presidency in a time of chaos and animosity. In this terrible time he gathered a ‘Team of Rivals’ and they collectively helped steer the nation back. This resulted in the preservation of the Union and the defeat of slavery in America. Ultimately at the cost of his own life.
  • Generals George Marshall and Dwight Eisenhower collectively led the American and Allied military forces to victory over the Nazi war machine in the Second World War. Marshall steadfastly subordinated his own position to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, firmly stating his opinion, but  then supporting the President’s decisions. While Eisenhower crafted an effective coalition among the American and British armed forces. He adroitly managed the egos and competing priorities within his Supreme Allied Headquarters. Both generals demonstrated a selfless focus that enabled the allies to overcome the Nazi threat to Freedom and democracy.

Each of these leaders faced wicked problems that presented no easy solutions. Each was confronted with groups of people advocating for far different solutions who were unwilling to negotiate  in the face of the problems.  Each had to (and did) find a way ahead to overcome the resistance and animosity they faced to implement solutions to those problems

Kevin Grint defines a “Wicked Problem’” in his book “Leadership: A Very Short Introduction” as one that;

  • is complex, not just complicated;
  • will change the environment significantly if solved;
  • often reveals no clear relationship between cause and effect; and
  • is more often than not, intractable.

We certainly see “wicked problems” around every corner these days. Poverty, environment changes, health care, border security, education, and crime, among others.  We also see similar tensions and frustrations at every level of human interaction.   The landscape is filled with raging voices insisting that their solution is “THE ” solution.   Where are the leaders that can rally support and produce solutions?

  • Leaders with the “Character'” needed to bring the various constituencies together to discuss and create the solutions needed for these complicated, complex problems
  • Leaders with the “Competencies” required to turn those discussions and plans into meaningful action.
  • Leaders with the “Commitment‘”to endure and overcome the visceral attacks we so often see waged on people who disagree with a stated way ahead.

General Eisenhower (later President Eisenhower) once said, “The one quality that can be developed by studious reflection and practice is the leadership of men.”

The study of leaders in history provides a platform to advance Eisenhower’s idea of “studious reflection”. The experiences of leaders that have gone before provide a laboratory in which to examine the decisions and actions of those leaders and the lessons that emerged from their efforts.  Lessons that can then be applied today by contemporary leaders willing to take the time to undertake “studious reflection”.

Each of us have seen organizations make significant advances when a new leader emerges. Organizations that were inefficient, ineffective, and often unpleasant suddenly become energized and effective. The people and the resources were largely unchanged, but that new leader stepped forward and changed the dynamic.  Leaders make all the difference.

Those electing to spend their time now in the pursuit of  “studious reflection ” to expand their leadership quotient, can become the leaders that  help navigate our turbulent times.  These are the men and women who will answer the clarion call for real leadership ringing out today.

Follow, or Join us, at How2Leadus.com and take action to raise your leadership quotient. 

Become the leader that makes all the difference for your organization.