Leadership Potion?

“Men make history, and not the other way around.
In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still.
Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders
seize the opportunity to change things for the better.”

— Harry S Truman

Fans of “The Munsters,” that old black & white show with Fred Gwynne as the lovable Herman Munster, may remember the dungeon, where Grandpa prepared magic potions. His concoctions, with ghastly ingredients such as eye of newt, could turn a person into almost anything. It’s a silly show. It makes an even sillier metaphor for this blog’s topic, leadership.

What ingredients are needed to transform an ordinary person into a good leader? I would start with ten parts character, a compound consisting of elements such as: integrity, courage, commitment, optimism, patience, compassion, desire, humility, loyalty and faith.

“The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.” — Ray Kroc

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” — Peter Drucker

Good character is the main ingredient of the leadership formula. Character produces desirable results such as inspiration, motivation, self esteem, justice and fairness. Character is what separates leaders from tyrants.

“Outstanding leaders appeal to the hearts of their followers – not their minds.” — Author Unknown

Next, I would add one part knowledge,

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” — John F. Kennedy, from the speech prepared for delivery in Dallas the day of his assassination, November 22, 1963

one part imagination,

“Imagination gives you the picture. Vision gives you the impulse to make the picture your own.” — Robert Collier

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” — Steve Jobs

one part style/personality,

“You do not lead by hitting people over the head-that’s assault, not leadership.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower

“Leadership is based on inspiration, not domination; on cooperation, not intimidation.” — William Arthur Wood

and one part communication.

“Leadership is communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that they come to see it in themselves.” — Stephen Covey, “The 8th Habit”

“Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and in actions.” — Harold Geneen, Chairman, ITT Corp.

The formula is potent even if the metaphor is weak.

How would a person determine if he was a leader? I heard someone suggest turning around. If no one is following, that person is not a leader.

“The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.” — Colin Powell

“The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and will to carry on.” — Walter J. Lippmann

A leader is not phony. People will eventually see right through someone who is a LINO (leader in name only.) True leadership is demonstrated and lived. Leaders bear some awesome responsibilities.

“A great leader never sets himself above his followers except in carrying responsibilities.” — Jules Ormont

“Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.” — Tom Peters

“He that would be a leader must be a bridge.” — Welsh Proverb

“The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.” — Henry Kissinger

“Good leadership consists in showing average people how to do the work of superior people.” — John D. Rockefeller

Leaders demand of themselves a regimen of continuous improvement, especially regarding the character ingredient. While leaders will exercise discretion to accept or reject specific leadership roles, their leadership attributes are not an on-off switch. True leaders don’t say, “I think I’ll behave like a leader today and maybe next Friday, too.” In other words …

“There are no office hours for leaders.” — Cardinal James Gibbons

There is a shortage of good leaders. I’m inclined to say we are in the middle of a leadership drought at every level: our families, institutions, communities and our countries.

“Great necessities call forth great leaders.” — Abigail Adams

Who is prepared to step forward? Who is willing to answer the call?

God bless,

— CC

© Copyright July 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
Read more “Clancy’s Quotes” at: ClancyCross.WordPress.com

2 thoughts on “Leadership Potion?

  1. Overall, I love the post and I even like the metaphor – even if it shows OUR age.

    While I agree with most of the leadership ingredients that you have listed. I find one ingredient- what I purport to be the most fundamental ingredient suspiciously missing. Vision. While imagination helps in the creation and articulation of vision, it, in and of itself is not vision.
    IMHO vision is the first ingredient. Without it, how do I know where to lead?
    Also, by your ingredients, I can only assume that you only refer to leaders that we would all agree are positive. Because if you match these ingredients against some of the greatest (not so positive) leaders you will find key ingredients missing. Perhaps, it would be an interesting excercise to isolate the missing ingredient in (bad) leaders.

  2. Thanks for the post. I think our differences on vision are in the semantics as in …

    “Our leader has a vision.”
    and
    “Our leader has vision.”

    The latter is the context I was using, which I believe is synonymous with “Our leader has imagination.” It takes imagination to create a vision. Therefore, to become a leader, one must develop and train and exercise their imagination so they are capable of developing a vision. I left vision out of my list because I was writing about how to develop leadership capability rather than how to recognize leaders.

    I agree that a leader cannot lead without a vision. I also agree what you said about true leadership being positive concept. That is why I stand by my position that character is more important than vision. Without good character the person is not worth following, probably has a vision that is also not worth following and therefore is not really a leader at all.

    That’s my clarification. I appreciate your thoughts and the challenge to my position. You have inspired me to write a sequel to this post.

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