Leadership (Inspired by Tom Peters)

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I dig Tom Peters' blog. I dig it a lot. He's a genius, plain and simple.

But I don't always agree with him.

This piece is from a recent post of his:

"Leadership is all about love: Passion, enthusiasms for life, engagement, commitment, great causes, and a determination to make a damn difference, shared adventures, bizarre failures, growth, insatiable apetite for change."

Um... Yeah, these are attributes of great leaders, but they don't necessarily have anything to do with leadership.

Take PM (Master Chief) Renard, of the French FUMACO, for example. I was his CO for a year during my 1990's stint with the armed forces, so I got to know him pretty well. A more natural leader, you'll never meet. Whatever makes a great leader, he had it: Confidence. Intensity. Courage. Determination. Charisma. Decisiveness. Competence. PM Renard never had to yell at his team. He never had to square anyone away. His guys just followed his every command because he inspired them to by his very presence. The guy was a leader through and through.

Yet PM Renard wasn't all that passionate or enthusiastic about anything. He didn't care about causes. He didn't care about making a difference. He never once showed the slightest sign that he favored change in any way, shape or form. PM Renard was a simple man with simple pleasures: The only things he seemed to enjoy were a quiet beer with friends, having the shiniest boots in the Navy, and occasionally a good cigar.

There's a kid on my son's soccer team who hardly ever says a word, but the other boys naturally follow him. He's the team captain. He drives their tactics. He's a leader on and off the field, but it has nothing to do with passion or an apetite for change. It has to do with those attributes I just listed above: Confidence. Determination. Charisma. Competence.

On the flip side, I've worked with a number of people who had all of the 'enlightened' attributes Tom mentions but didn't have the leadership gene.

(To be fair, Tom did list more TRUE leadership traits such as integrity, action and grace, but in a looser context.)

Now... bridge the passion and enthusiasm for life thing and the confidence and charisma paragraph, and whoa. Yeah. You'll have something very, very special.

Now, I don't want to seem like I'm beating up on Tom because I'm not. I just thought that his list only took into account half of the qualities that make a person a true leader.

As an aside, this piece from his same post almost made me cry out with joy because it is sooooo dead-on, and sooooooo important:

"I fervently believe that the capitalist dream comes true and profit is maximized when ... turned-on people are empowered to dream big and produce awesome products and service experiences for their customers and communities."


PS: If you want to see leadership in action, do yourself a favor and rent "The Thin Red Line" (Terrence Malick's 1998 version.)

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