In the Mind of a Leader

On the first day of class we all came up with traits and qualities we thought make a leader, some of us even spoke about the leadership positions we’ve had.  Since the first class I’ve been thinking about the list we came up with and realized that we all generally think a leader is a person that is able to take into account everyone’s opinions, then make one decision based on those ideas and follow them through with the help of the team. So what happens when things go wrong? Everyone looks to the leader for the why things went wrong.

Failure is inevitable, it happens (even if you have the best team working with you and all the people on your team are working their hardest to succeed) – it can still happen and that’s okay. The best leaders are the ones that don’t fear failure. Instead they see it as an opportunity to note their mistakes, learn how to fix then and move on. These leaders are the ones that have the perseverance and passion to keep trying until they’re successful.  Recently I read an article on entitled  The Psychology of Failure, in which the author Oliver Blanchard adds a quote that actually was my inspiration for this post.

It says, ” I will tell His Majesty what a king is. A king does not abide within his tent while his men bleed and die upon the field. A king does not dine while his men go hungry, nor sleep when they stand at watch upon the wall. A king does not command his men’s loyalty through fear nor purchase it with gold; he earns their love by the sweat of his own back and the pains he endures for their sake. That which comprises the harshest burden, a king lifts first and sets down last. A king does not require service of those he leads but provides it to them. He serves them, not they him.”


2 Responses to “In the Mind of a Leader”

  1.   Wendy Wagner Says:

    That’s a great quote and describes perfectly an approach to leadership called “Servant Leadership” which is the same approach to leadership as John’s blog post for this week. I sense a trend that we can perhaps cover in an upcoming class.

    I also like your thoughts about leadership and the issue of failure. I think in the popular media (particular reality tv shows like Project Runway or Top Chef) it is assumed that failure is attributed to the leader of the group. Most current leadership approaches however really emphasize leadership as a process that everyone in the group contributes to. Everyone in the group has a role to play. I’m curious what others in the LLC think about that. Not thinking about tv shows, but actual groups you are in – when you don’t reach the goal, do folks tend to look to the leader or is the failure (and the learning that needs to result from that) assumed to be shared?

  2.   swilli28 Says:

    I think my favorite thing you said about leadership here is also the most important thing (in my opinion) about leadership in general: a leader has to be willing to serve. A true leader is not better than those they lead. A true leader is willing to come alongside, to do the dirty work that no one else may want to do, to set an example.
    In response to your first few paragraphs on leadership and failure, I think that really notable leaders know how to respond well to failure and criticism. They don’t give in to it, they accept it, learn from it, and move on. In terms of criticism, a true leader especially does not sink to the level of the person criticizing them (which is hard to do-take the presidential election campaigning for example!).

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