By Kevin Meyer
If we spent half as much time actually leading as we do looking for leadership lessons under every conceivable rock, perhaps we'd actually get something done. Sorry, but today put me over the edge a bit.
Bill and I have both ranted about this before.
For help along the way, the would-be leader should read up on Abraham Lincoln, Attila The Hun, Santa Claus and basketball coach John Wooden. Jesus, the Founding Fathers and the US Army Rangers all have leadership lessons to teach, as do Teddy and Eleanor Roosevelt (not Franklin, though), Alfred Sloan, Martin Luther King and Six University Presidents (the rest of the academic folks are not leadership examples – just 6 of them). Jack Welch, the old rebel Robert E Lee and TV characters the Sopranos are leadership paragons to study. George Patton, Ronald Reagan, Alexander The Great, the Navy Seals and arctic explorer Robert Shackleton have leadership principles, practices and secrets to adopt, as does Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi – better known as Mahatma.
Since then there have been unnumerable others. And today?
Havard Business Review gives us The Leadership Lessons of Ants. Yes, really. With brilliant innovative thinking such as…
The ants worked as a team: I will form a team, bringing professionals together.
Cool! I never thought of working as a team before! I'll have to try that…
And then less than an hour later guru Robin Sharma brought us Leadership Lessons from Really Old People. Ok, I will admit the title intrigued me. He talks about (you have to sit and listen to his video blog…) how old people get set in their ways. So I guess the lesson is don't get set in your ways. I'm going to run out tomorrow and try out that lightning bolt of an idea…!
Just like benchmarking eventually marginalizes everyone down to a common mediocrity, so does this incessant search for supposed miracle leadership lessons.
Even third graders understand what real leadership is about.
Dan Markovitz says
I saw that article, too. Blech. The need to pass off gobsmackingly obvious facts as deep, trenchant insights is a sad example of non-value added activity. Sigh.
Jim Fernandez says
Actually the ant lesson is a good example of this simple equation. Do the math.
Workers (divided by) Leaders = Success.
I like this brilliant line from another article “Smart Swarm” that Ekekwe mentions:
“In your research, you also studied termites, locusts, schools of fish, and flocks of birds. Is there an overall principle that applies to the business world?
Find out who’s good at doing what on your team and allow them to bring different skills and types of knowledge to the table. Depending on the type of problems you’re dealing with—and they never stop—you may discover that someone on your team knows how to solve it.”
Wow. Brilliant. I never would have thought of that.
Next it will be leadership lessons from Dilber. Oh, wait…
(“This company is a democracy. Give me your ideas and I will vote on them.”)