Leadership Philosophy

I haven’t been doing much writing, outside of writing for class. Here’s a journal entry I wrote for one of my classes. I don’t know what grade I’ll get for it, but I thought I’d post it here.

Leaders inspire. They recognize a need in society, and they are able to convince the people to undertake a task to fulfill that need, whether or not the people also recognize that need, and whether or not the people believe they are capable of undertaking the task. Thomas Cronin wrote, “Leaders have those indispensable qualities of contagious self-confidence, unwarranted optimism, and incurable idealism that allow them to attract and mobilize others to undertake tasks these people never dreamed they could undertake. …to speak to people of what’s only dimly on their minds. The effective creative leader is one who can give voice and form so that people say, “Ah, yes – that’s what I too have been feeling.’”

An example of this would be Winston Churchill. Many people did not believe that fighting against Nazi Germany was a good idea. Many of those who did think it was important did not believe they were capable of winning. But Churchill saw that for the free world the war was both important to fight and theirs to win. He helped inspire and lead Britain and the Allies to victory in World War II in part through the three qualities Cronin listed – “contagious self-confidence, unwarranted optimism, and incurable idealism,” and in doing so he achieved a task many thought to be impossible, and etched himself a place among the greatest leaders of history.

Cronin also wrote that, “Most of the significant breakthroughs in our country have been made by people who saw all the complexities ahead of them, but believed in themselves and their purposes. They refused to be overwhelmed and paralyzed by doubts. They were willing to invent new rules and gamble on the future.” Leaders innovate. Steve Jobs was considered a leader in business and technology in part because of his ability to innovate. He continually pushed the boundaries of what was considered “the norm,” creating technology that nobody knew they wanted, yet the populous decided they needed. He would regularly come up against doubters, people who criticized his ideas, but he did not let that hold him back. He was a visionary, and foresaw the possibilities, and did not let the fear of failure paralyze him.

Cronin wrote that “An effective leader must have integrity…it is perhaps the most central of leadership qualities. A leader must be able to see people in all of their relationships, in the wholeness of their lives and not just as a means to getting a job done, as a means for enhanced productivity.” Many managers are good at getting a job done, but this is not necessarily effective leadership. As we discussed earlier in class, “A leader knows what’s best to do; a manager knows merely how best to do it” (Ken Adelman). Many American companies have outsourced their manufacturing plants to third-world countries, where they take advantage of cheap labor, having people work in poor (and sometimes dangerous) conditions, for meager pay. Are these companies “getting a job done?” Yes, and from a bottom-line perspective, one might say they are doing the job well. After all, they are getting high productivity for low investments, and reaping huge profits off of it. However, their decisions lack integrity, and their achievements are marred with controversy. An effective leader will pursue integrity if he/she wants to maintain a good reputation with God and man.

I found it interesting how Warren Bennis noted that all 90 leaders he studied were married to their first spouse and supported the institution of marriage. To honor the sanctity of marriage is a Godly virtue, as noted in the Bible. God blesses those who follow his ways. (“Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart.” Psalm 119:2) It’s no coincidence that leaders, when they let success go to their heads and pursue sinful desires, lose some of their position. Tiger Woods, who at one time was the world’s leading golfer, has fallen from grace since having an extra-marital affair. His golf game hasn’t been the same, and he is no longer considered the premier golfer in the world. Regarding integrity, Cronin went on to write, “Some may call this character, others would call it authenticity, compassion or empathy. Whatever we call it, character and integrity are much easier kept than recovered.” This is why I stress the importance of God. A leader needs to have a foundation grounded on firm principals of truth and integrity if he/she expects to be an effective leader. When one fears God, one has reverence for virtue and righteousness. When one loves God, one has compassion on the people he leads.

Cronin also wrote, “Leaders are people who know who they are and know where they are going.” Leaders need to know themselves if they want to be able to lead others. To follow someone who doesn’t know where they are going would be like the blind leading the blind. But with Christ at their center, a leader can’t go wrong, for the leader is not expected to lead oneself, but rather, has as his or her leader God Almighty. And “if God be for us, who can be against us?” Abraham Lincoln, who is considered to be one of the greatest leaders in United States history, followed this principal. He said, “It is no pleasure to me to triumph over any one; but I give thanks to the Almighty for this evidence of the people’s resolution to stand by free government and the rights of humanity.”

As a leader, humility is an important virtue to sustained success. With success comes pride, which very easily leads to destruction. Many leaders, upon achieving success, go on a power trip, which leads to their downfall. To humble oneself before a higher power seems to be the only way to truly keep one’s ego in check, and this can be found through Christ. While other religious scholars also stress the importance of humility, Jesus is the only one to claim to be God, and to have the miraculous powers to prove it, with his triumph over death. The Buddha, Confuscious, and Lao Tzu also preached humility as a virtue, but they do not hold a higher being before themselves, thus there is no one to hold them accountable. The many gods and goddesses of Hinduism and other polytheistic beliefs are oftentimes just as lacking in virtue as mortal humans, thus they also cannot be used as a righteous and impartial judge. Muhammad claims to know God and the way to heaven, but lacks the miracles to prove himself worthy of being followed. Any leader who humbles himself before the Lord and follows him will surely succeed in his or her endeavors.

While I enjoyed the Cronin reading, I would like to make my own personal addendum: “Leaders have those indispensable qualities of contagious self-confidence [knowing that God is guiding them], unwarranted optimism [for the joy of the Lord is their strength], and incurable idealism [for truth is found in God] that allow them to attract and mobilize others to undertake tasks these people never dreamed they could undertake.” The result is good for the people, is good for society as a whole, brings honor to the leader, and brings glory and honor to God.

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