Last week I provided some thoughts regarding a traditional saying that was shared by a friend recently:
“If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” - African Proverb
In response to what I wrote last week, I received a couple of thoughts worth sharing.
Robert Cairns replied as follows:
The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born — that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.
— Warren Bennis
“A ship is always safe at the shore - but that is not what it is built for.”
― Albert Einstein
I recently had a conversation with a dear friend – someone I truly respect, even admire. The upshot was that my friend was advocating playing it safe; I felt the risk was worth it.
So who is right?
Here’s the deal: We are both correct.
Life has its seasons, doesn’t it? That said, personally, I am lately in a great season of life. Yet the challenges of times past and times yet to come are ever present in my soul.
And it is a fact of leadership-life that those who walk in leadership roles for any length of time will encounter adversity due to their role and responsibilities. And so it was with a family friend recently.
It is easy to enter the word “trending” into the search bar a my web browser and find out what the current social media conversation is all about at any given time. It is simple to “discern” the modern conversational trends.
The larger question for a person in leadership is not, “What is trending?” Rather the higher calling of those who lead is, “What trend am I setting?”
Last week I spoke to a situation where a business skipped past the process of defining the purpose of their enterprise in favor of hiring a charismatic quarterback to infuse new life into the enterprise.
I shared my analysis as follows: They traded purpose for personality (read here).
As is always the case with a short commentary, there is more to the story.
A number of months ago I was consulting with a non-profit organization that was floundering at a point of transition. Leadership was passive and the team was discouraged. They called and scheduled a meeting and asked, “What should we do?”
In predictable fashion (for those who know me), I encouraged the founders to revisit their purpose; to answer the question, “Why?”
They listened with interest and we parted so they could ponder their options. Several weeks later I received a call and we scheduled a time to meet again.
One of the key roles in leadership is solving problems as they arise. And even though most of us will never be in the position of facing the problem of solving a hostage stand-off, the tools utilized by professional negotiators in such situations are certainly transferrable – at least in principle – to the general topic of problem solving.