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Letters by a modern St. Ferdinand III about cults

Plenty of cults exist - every cult has its 'religious dogma', its idols, its 'prophets', its 'science', its 'proof' and its intolerant liturgy of demands.  Cults everywhere:  Islam, the State, the cult of Gay and Queer, Marxism, Darwin and Evolution, 'Science', Globaloneywarming, Changing Climate, Abortion....a nice variety for the human-hater, amoral, anti-rationalist to choose from.  It is so much fun mocking them isn't it ?

Tempus Fugit Memento Mori - Time Flies Remember Death 

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Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Leadership

What Constitutes Great Leadership ?

by StFerdIII

What Constitutes Great Leadership ?

Within the story of the last century we see the rise not only of the great Liberal – Darwin – Freud conflict over the question of human nature and human freedom, but we see towering above the masses the crags and peaks of peculiar individuals, our human ancestors and comrades, called leaders, that seemed to stand out against the background, as the catalysts of change. What then constitutes the cellular and molecular makeup of these rare characters ?

Harry Truman, erstwhile President during the later and following stages of the Second World War, stated a definition of a Leader that is pithy and simple; “A Leader is a man who has the ability to get other people to do what they don’t want to do and like it.” This was the man who had on his desk during his presidency “The buck stops here.”, broadcasting to his people and underlings that his desk was where the last court of appeal would rest. Interestingly Truman was never thought to be much of a Leader before he acceded on the death of FDR to the highest office in the world. Yet his conviction that a Leader must take the ultimate responsibility within a clearly defined organisation and set of goals have led revisionist historians to rank Truman as one of the most influential presidents this century, with the dropping of the atomic bomb and the commencement of the Cold War marking this era as one of the most difficult and messy in the history of modern International Relations.

In discussing leadership we can state that there are a number of facets that constitute the great or at least in our current minds – the mythologically large and dynamic beacon - that guides the deeds of the generation in question. Even given the human penchant for musing and invoking the ghosts of the past to fit as larger than current life immortals, we are seeing a dearth of great leadership and a definite trend towards localisation and the banalisation of political agendas. With the constraints of institutional frameworks becoming more severe, and the fragmentation of debate more resonant, it is fair to judge not just the seeming coarseness of politico’s themselves, but also to put into context the severe and uncompromising legal, constitutional and at times baffling public pressures that rest on current politicians. It is not an innovation to state that the unwieldy interference in the lives of many high ranking officials by the media and the tabloids was not tolerated by the powerful before the 1980s. Yet today the web of legal, constitutional and political pressures on politicians are immense, perhaps far more severe than the worlds of yesteryear when leadership was limited to a well defined and intimate elite that knew the system and knew how to make deals and make decisions. Just ask Bill Clinton what organised witch hunts can do to a man’s life.

Nevertheless it is too facile to regard the dearth of real innovative leadership by blaming the institutional messes we have fabricated. Something more sinister is at work – that being the end or at least the dissipation of the work ethic and the promulgation of the ‘me’ syndrome; a life dedicated to easy pickings and immoral laxitude where rules and respect of hard work and civility, are replaced by underachievement, bad attitudes and quick fixes. If their governments disappoint people, and low voter turnout would reflect this – then they should look at their own conduct and affairs to uncover the root of the malaise. One need to look no further than the real lack of entrepreneurs, the public fixation with sick days and vacation days, and the apathy of the general masses regarding important yet complicated political issues, to become nauseated by what some utopians might term the destructive impulses of mad capitalistic - consumerism.

Yet in spite of this it is also not fair to misrepresent the actual leadership skills of past heroes, or to elevate historical societies above our own. Each was singularly flawed. All were human and suffered from the frailty of human conception. But according to leadership experts and psychologists there is a pattern at work within people who are leaders and who can lead or achieve great causes, or who cast the river of life into a different course. Many studies have posited the linkage between two areas; those being character and psychology and namely; the character and actual traits embodied by the leader and his/her psychological makeup in organising their thoughts, actions and deeds.

Warren Bennis, perhaps the world’s pre-eminent voice on leadership believes that the key to competitive advantage (we can extrapolate this to be business or political centric) in the 90’s and beyond “will be the capacity of top leadership to create the social architecture capable of generating intellectual capital.” As Bennis identifies, “Leaders are people who do the right things. Managers are people who do things right. There is a profound difference. When you think about doing the right things, your mind immediately goes toward thinking about the future, thinking about dreams, missions, visions, strategic intent, and purpose. But when you think about doing things right, you think about control mechanisms.”(1)

But the greater point at issue is the seeming dearth of leadership skills in our public officialdom and in society and business at large. Something has gone rotten in the state. As Bennis’ Fortune article asked the reader, “But now, try to name only one larger-than-life Leader, one who could fill the role of FDR, or Ike or De Gaulle, or Churchill.’” Most of our leaders today are decidedly average, and do not promote or lift us or our hopes on the wings of higher purpose and energy. They miss the leadership skills that Bennis and others are dedicated to teaching. The skills that are according to Bennis are so vital for leadership is:


- Judgement and character.
- Persuasive ability to get people to accept the idea.
- Candour.
- Constancy.
- Conceptual skills
- Strongly defined sense of purpose.
- Potent point of view
- Limited number but clearly defined objectives.
- People skills.

Importantly Bennis believes that leaders are not born -- but are self made. All the above points are a framework of skills that combine character traits and psychological dispositions. It is a complicated and interesting mixture of these two ‘concepts’ that seems to produce the leaders of human society. First we shall look at the issues of character and use Bennis’ ideas (below in Italics) to provide a framework and then we will look at Churchill and other leaders of this century. For simplicity I have grouped Bennis’ ideas and other concepts of leadership into the following categories;

1. Character: Judgement, Candour and I would add; Courage, energy and self-concept. These are the rallying points around which disciples will support their Leader.
2. Skills: Communication Skills, Persuasive ability to get people to accept the idea, People skills, Conceptual skills. These skills are necessary to get others to buy in. But they are not a substitute for character.
3. Intelligence, technical ability, innovation, and economic education. It is impossible to lead without adding value and intelligence.
4. Vision: Constancy, Strongly defined sense of purpose, Potent point of view Limited number but clearly defined objectives, Philosophical and Political values. The winners in history have always carried a ‘potent’ vision. Without such an ‘addiction’ courage of purpose can be compromised.
5. Power: Joined with the philosophical and embodies the practical use of power. Power and its realistic but hopefully moral application, is vital in a world filled with opposing and incompatible alternatives.

The use of leadership in a changeable world, would involve the above. It is not that realistic to expect our human leaders to exhibit the above in toto. However, it should be expected that the qualities that constitute winning in life, should be taught and developed in our public at large, with some measure of integrity of greater moral purpose. The more we understand how great issues are faced and resolved, and the characters that lie behind these achievements, the better off we will all be, and the more able to develop the future of the human race in a direction where peace and hope prevail over conflict and deceit.

1) Character:
In the catalogue of leadership, any book about this topic that sits in the local bookstore will probably begin the tale with comments about character. But what exactly is a ‘good’ character ? After all many able, secure and thoughtful men were entranced by such disreputable and venomous characters as Hitler, Mussolini, Amin, Pol Pot and the like, and to a lesser degree by such weak characters as Neville Chamberlain, Czar Romanov, Emperor Hirohito, and others. In science, in art, in technology, in fact in every walk of life we follow those we deem to have sufficient character, and reject those that do not imbue and exhibit these worthwhile characteristics. Why do people ignore such weak characters as William Clinton, whilst at the same time extolling the virtues of sound ethics every Sunday morning ?

Given the inexact nature of defining character, we are left with basically assessing a person’s character in two ways. First, we react to other humans on basically an emotional level. If you like me I am more apt to like you. With those we like we give a fairly large margin of error. If one of my best friends commits a crime, I will find many plausible physical and mystical explanations as to how this miscreancy was forced into being, through no fault of my trusted ally. Second, we appraise acquaintances and those in our circle of life who are not friends by matching their actions with their words. This can be very culturally biased or premised upon pretty loose evidence or second hand information. Hence the political sensitivity to making a mistake whether in business, love, politics or sport. Nobody wants a bad or unreliable name. However even given this reticence to trust someone as a ‘good character’, we still have in the flow of history many individuals of bad character who have been able to lead, to overwhelm, to control and finally to shape the destiny of our race, convincing good, intelligent people of their validity. Character is a murky animal indeed, difficult to snare.

Leaving the dispute aside of what constitutes good and evil, we should focus on identifying what character traits quantify good leadership. Great 20th century personalities are those who have taken either a direct or indirect leadership role in their chosen profession and discipline. People follow this leader in the hope of realising something greater, something that lies outside of physical existence, that can give meaning and song to the crush of earthly reality. Most times when we follow a leader, we are following at least in part some aspects of his/her character that compel us to believe the message, the cause and the chances of either material or moral success. As well we will follow a strong and good character if we believe as well that the leader will use common sense to adjust to new situations hopefully following some simple moral and ethical principles (2).

However, morality and ethics are determined largely by the age in which they are written and by the predominant themes that are driving forward the society at that time. Therefore we cannot in our age, project our own morals upon those who operated in another era. To do so would be to commit the fallacy of moral superiority. If I was for example to write a tract about ancient Sumeria, I might note disapprovingly of their various primitive sexual cults, but I would not have the right as a historian to therefore make the insinuation that by extension the leaders of that era were by default, corrupt or m
orally inferior those of a different era, or simply ‘bad characters’. I would be forced in this example to measure the effectiveness of Sumerian leaders within the context of their times. However I could certainly suggest that in ancient Sumeria, using basic principles of human rights and good ethics vs. bad ethics, that some rulers had better characters than others, even given the ethos of the era.

I would thus suggest that the crux of character is the ability of a person to exercise and demonstrate self – discipline and that this trait transcends transitory or era based ethos and differences. This concept is the basic ingredient of self control, and a foundation for self respect. People will respond to other humans who have self-discipline, confidence and a goal oriented nature. Without self-discipline a person cannot become a Leader. To achieve this a person must go through the rites of passage. Many great individuals spent time in the ‘wilderness’, disconnected from the mainstream of their society and the forces that shaped it. In fact it is interesting to note how many leaders spent time in either self imposed or forcible exile, going through in many cases a metamorphosis of comprehension and of intellect.

The majesty of the Bible – really the basic construct of Western ethics – relates the story of the Hebrew Moses and his imposed exile (for killing an Egyptian), and his discovery after many years in the wilderness of his spiritual self, his own concept of God, and the working out of a plan for his life that would give him some purpose. His people responded, and though few if any of them really understood the basic idea of Moses’ message (they were quick for instance to break most if not all of the Ten Commandments), they did respond and after a struggle, followed his example and cause. Such stories about character formation and disciple response are common. The resolve of the Leader’s character can only be formed in the face of failure and hardship. Otherwise the pettiness of the easy life corrupts all. How many rich, pretty boys, and girls, are really characters worth emulating ?

This journey becomes for these less fortunate leaders a process of self-determination where the individual comes to grips with the fundamental issues of self confidence, his / her place in the order of the universe, and the decisions, rules and behaviours that he/she will support. Such conceptions will of course be shaped by the era in which the person lives. But ultimately the Leader emerges from the fires of this exiled existence a renewed and committed personality, grounded in the sound principles of self-discipline and in the interest of the good guys, some strong ethical purpose.

The journey and the character then become merged in action. The action of the Leader whilst evincing the nominal goals of the journey must display some moral and intellectual compatibility with the desired traits and skills needed to achieve the success. As the ancient Chinese proclaimed “do not attempt to deceive yourself”. A Leader cannot pronounce one set of goals and rules, and in another compartment of life, enact other less stringent levels of conduct. In fact inconsistent actions based on an inconsistent character rarely extract loyalty for the long duration, in which most successes are achieved. For the Leader in the longer term struggle employing the right followers will be vital. A Leader must be aware of the character of his followers since he will eventually become like them.

In discussing the interaction of the Leader and the follower, somewhere in the human subconscious is our image of our immaculate Leader – beautiful, proud, disciplined, dynamic and always correct. Reality is more prosaic. In our culture where for the most part individualism and ‘toughness’ to some degree are eulogised, it is easy for people to fall into the trap of appearing to be in control and correct. However for many this becomes arrogance which has nothing to do with courage or proper leadership. From my simple observations in the world I would categorise arrogance as a lack of confidence, and a lack of refineness in the manners of leadership, more akin to the baser quality of the masses. Arrogance is usually buttressed by the fact that the person in question is rarely willing to demand excellence from him or her self. It is much easier to demand it from others.

In order to deal with chaos and fluidity, arrogance and the principles of complete control or direction are not at all necessary. What is necessary in terms of character traits are what we have discussed above, which if properly translated into action, will produce someone who is open and flexible and adaptable. As a notable military strategist once said, “No plan of operations extends with certainty beyond the first encounter with the enemy. Only the layman sees in the course of a campaign a consistent execution of a preconceived and highly detailed original concept…” How true. Even the most well thought out and scientifically calibrated plan will only be valid in a vacuum. Events and people change.

Besides stupid arrogance, weak leaders or those with weak or flawed characters have tended to exhibit four dangerous faults that lead to problems or destruction, namely: cowardice which leads to capitulation; a hasty temper which can be provoked by insults; unwarranted fixation on general public opinion which will lead to opportunism; and over-solicitude for followers which can expose a Leader to needless worry and trouble. Many failed leaders did not have the strength of character needed to balance the above, and drive through the storms of trial, to achieve their missions.

A strong character will avoid these and bring people together in response to a challenge. A chief characteristic of a good Leader is the ability to get the job done without destroying everyone around him, and utilising in a proper way, the tools that people can offer. A strong character based Leader recognises that systems do not matter but people and that only people make the systems effective and liveable. This is true as organisms – businesses or units of people – grow, thrive, mature, and die. The rise and fall of organisms, be it nation states or the local teacher’s union, will be based upon the competence of their leaders and their leaders recognition about providing responsible character traits to address the changing issues at hand. Yet great character while vital is usually not sufficient for someone to be a leader. There must also be a demonstration of subliminal skills, and value added technique that mark the individual out from the madding crowd, as a person of interest and distinction.

2. Skills:
As CS Lewis 60 years ago in The Abolition of Man so aptly stated: “You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilisation needs is more ‘drive’, or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or ‘creativity’. In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings to be fruitful.”(3)

In all the eras of recorded history this has been so. The current era cries out against the iniquity of banality. The contemporary calls for the past. The judge of today shall sentence the weaknesses of his time. The heroic is eschewed for the pleasurable. Especially so in the modern epic where progress is expected, and development demanded but the routine of life for most in the West is too easy. Things must be achieved, evolution must be forced, but where and with whom, do the sacrifices lie ?

In time of change and tumult, extraordinary effects are expected from the ordinary human. The modern Christian and secular era which began with the rationality of Descartes, was a keen departure from the more fatalistic, deterministic concerns that had befuddled man since the time of the ancient Greeks. In the philosophy of antiquity, progress did not exist. The human condition was cyclical, in the hands of Gods, and deterministic. The three fates, picked, pulled and then cut the thread of each life. Pagan rituals, myths of various kinds and then institutionalised religion, bounded the masses into acceptance. However with the coming of the enlightenment and the power of individualism these shackles were thrown off. Progress and equal access to power were demanded by the dull but brute mass. Standards and expectations have progressed and now we have the question of how to achieve an open Liberal order within the framework of human frailty, egoism and banality ? How should, in this culture of equality and ‘me too’ rights, a person lead ?

The evolution of leadership usually matches the evolution of societal development, albeit for some regions of the world at a retarded pace. Different eras will throw up different leadership paradigms. In the mostly militaristic and tribal and primal eras that were in vogue for most of history before the industrial revolution and the spread of technology and democracy, most leadership was rather authoritarian. The authoritarianism could take different guises and forms, and have different points of emphasis, but mainly until about the 19th century, rule was by force, by a small oligarchic elite, and without any real regard for popular expression.

The degree of this atavism would be influenced by the degree of the particular empire, city-state, or tribe’s collective mission, religious worship and strength. But there is very little difference when looking at the attitudes and actions of early Sumerian or Babylonian rulers with those of Rome, the Mayans, the ancient Manchu’s or the Gold Coast Princes, or even those skills demonstrated by Napoleon, Stalin or Mao. But in a world where the Internet runs amok, technology creates new markets and extends the human life each year, and mass communication has rendered a class system an anachronism, some redefinition of the leadership paradigm is required.

In the re-appraisal of leadership during the past century, many experts have concluded that the priority of the Leader is to guide, co-ordinate and empower. Only in this way could he avoid the primitive struggles, revolutions and intrigue that seemingly crippled or destroyed the leaders of history during the more primitive era of human societal development. Not eschewing the principles of power it was deemed that all leaders could achieve control through persuasion in a democratic environment with the inclusion of their constituents. It can be witnessed in reading history that the most effective leaders are those that have presented a drama that unfolds over time, with a pregnant message and a theme that is dynamic. For those who are revered as leaders they have given or are giving their people the impression that they have, all together, embarked on a journey. Importantly for the followers this journey will in some way resolve the issue of their individual identities and their place in the order of this chaotic universe.(4). As such the strong message and vital theme is linked to the self worth and egoism of the constituents.

Therefore the skills that we have identified – communication, persuasion, and people skills – will be necessary to democratise but at the same time civilise the group mission. Leadership occurs in the human mind (s) of the Leader and followers – especially in the cognitive processes of those that are following. Power must be yoked to cognitive processes and specific messages that can appeal to the needs of the followers, especially the human need to feel included, wanted and respected .(5) In this regard there is no need to guide policies by the latest opinion poll or force complex ideas into sound bites. Churchill for example exerted influence directly through the stories he communicated to his audience. Einstein was an indirect Leader using the ideas he developed and his treatises to appeal to these basic human yearnings and thus win wide acceptance as a Leader of science. Thus persuasion and communication are extremely important, in fact crucial, for any Leader. When a Leader tells stories to sophisticates it can be complicated, but when the Leader is dealing with a diverse heterogeneous group the story must be sufficiently basic to be understood by the untutored mind .(6)

In the thread of communication the Leader must focus the group on the goal (s) (limited it should be stressed for the sake of clarity), that they will collectively achieve. To realise the goal the Leader must drive for quality, achievement and results. However the Leader must be steeled and resistant and ruthless in dealing with those who demand unwarranted change in the group’s direction or those who demand that every step be performed to perfection. Rebels and those who corrupt the cause must be effectively dealt with, either they are brought into the group as effective participants or they must be ejected. Perfectionism on the other hand is the enemy of effectiveness. An effective plan executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next year. A true Leader will be able to make, communicate and implement an effective plan. He must really resist those who demand perfection. In my experience these perfectionists are more in love with delay and babble then in achieving something. They are also incapable of taking judicious risks. This is not to deny quality, but elevate results. In this regard, the skill of communication will be vital as the Leader manages the art of improvisation to achieve the stated goal; “Petty minds attempt to accomplish everything; wise men pursue only the most important.”(7) The large goal must be always communicated and present and perfectionism and other obstructions found intolerable.

The sophisticated and untutored mind will believe and subscribe to the achievement of the goal if the story told by the Leader is carried into force by action and determination. The Leader must lead by example and by hard determined work. Importantly a true Leader will have the self discipline and associated skills to not only enjoy quietly the triumphs along the way, but more importantly to maintain calm during a crisis. Patience and knowing when and how to achieve victory are important qualities that the Leader must relate, tell and exemplify.

To satisfy goal attainment we are not only dealing with the skill of convincing others, but we must integrate into the message the skills of intelligence and knowledge. Effective communication without knowing what you are doing or talking about is dangerous. Knowledge, is the foundation of success. Knowledge is the fundamental, strategic, and tactical understanding of the entire process at work, and what the goal(s) should be and how to achieve these goals. To understand what you do and do not know is true knowledge and the type of knowledge a Leader needs to strike the right message, communicate the right signals to the right people at the right time, and get those with the skills he does not possess on the team.

3) Intelligence
Communication skills are therefore a component of intelligence but what exactly is intelligence ? IQ tests though providing some standard to measure raw, Western based concepts surrounding how we in the West view intelligence, are not accurate indicators of success in life. School achievement is not an indicator and does not provide a direct mathematical correlation to the success people enjoy or do not enjoy in professional and private affairs. Intelligence is in essence a combination of skills and aptitudes over a wide range of areas, with, it appears an applied focus on a particular domain, by a person with perseverance that generates success. Natural genius in some is evident but this genius by itself is not the only variety of intelligence that humans offer and is not even the most important when people discuss intelligence. The hard intelligence – scientific, mathematical, calibrated – is not the same as the soft intelligence of human skills, communication and common sense. Einstein could not remember his phone number, Churchill could not fix a car engine, Bill Gates is celebrated as lacking in human skills; but are any of these people less intelligent in general than the other ? Who knows.

In general we can state that there are some forms of intelligence that an effective Leader should possess. The first of these is technical ability. Technical ability is the application of skills relating to the discipline at hand. The tools, the methods, the programs, and the general knowledge around the subject, constitute technical intelligence. It can be highly mathematical and refined. Even non-scientific, non-industrial or non-technical areas, can be calibrated and quantified and the understanding regarding what constitutes the subject can be considered ‘hard’. To be effective and know what is really going on a Leader needs to be well versed in his technical discipline.

Important in this aspect is the application of innovative thought. The ability to change or add more value to the technical area by using common sense to solve problems or change some technical feature of the topic at hand elevates the prestige of the Leader. Innovation is then another key component of intelligence. Capitalism as a theory is founded upon innovative destruction. Creative chaos breeds challenges, changes and chance. People can then add to their speciality some form of applied innovation to solve some issues or create opportunities. Innovation however is rather difficult to quantify. Some innovations are achieved by sheer dogged courage, others by a combination of sweat and luck, others by circumstance and collaboration across time and people. How are we to measure the creative creatures who are building electronic commerce systems for internet shopping, against the local garage engineer who cheaply and efficiently finds, fixes and tests a novel solution to your car engine’s trouble ?

A Leader must have the technical and innovational skills demanded by his environment or the same skills to create his environment. However, I would submit that this is not enough. A Leader must also understand history and people. This is a completely different interpretation of intelligence, utilising different spheres of the brain and neo-cortex, yet vital for a Leader. I mean not just the history and people of his chosen area of professionalism, but a Leader must have in general an appreciation of history, culture and time. People follow leaders who can demonstrate a multi-faceted approach and understanding to life and who can show other people the skills and ideals that they aspire to and want to hold. For the leader a general appreciation of history, people and time is indispensable for self–perspective, and to understand his place in the universe. It also forms a part of the group’s mission and vision in the grand sweep of historical progress and civilisational development. A Leader who understands history can elevate the current and mundane to the sublime, through an enthusiastic interpretation of the group’s mission in historical terms. He can also spot trends, repeated occurrences and learn from the past to avoid mistakes. The good Leader recognises that history does indeed have a nasty habit of repetition, albeit in different disguises.

4) Vision
A true Leader develops an intense determination to achieve his vision. This creates high morale and spirit among the constituents. The Leader will use this power to control the efforts of his followers. The path to command therefore starts with a purpose. The most notable leaders in history have possessed an overarching vision relating to their goal; the philosophy and meaning of achieving the vision; and the ethical doctrine (which can be very much debatable depending on the principles espoused by the leader), supporting the vision. This vision is usually premised upon the skills and traits mentioned already. There has to be some valued added and ‘exciting’ agent at work in marking this person out as a Leader and distancing him from the rest. Usually this agent is catalysed by innovation, resolve and intelligence – all related to a vision that the followers buy into.

This vision should not only be a stated goal – or a hard objective. It has to also be a moral statement or a position that is recognised at the very least as neutral regarding the basic beliefs that underlie all human religious activity – patience, hope, understanding, humility, civilised conduct and co-operation. The vision cannot come into conflict, at least not with people who have some ethical construction – with these basic ideals. This is very true in an integrated world. Despite the many horrors of human history and the swings in the pendulum of human morality, one can point to the gradual emergence of more sophisticated ways of thinking in the areas of morality and civility. Leaders are also evolving their morale themes -- Jean Monnet, Churchill and Gandhi would be examples since they developed in their constituencies a more complex way of thinking; in effect they communicated a vision with a meaning. Many leaders fail the vision test since their stated goals are material and ignore the ethical. As Freud expressed; “the voice of the intellect is a soft one, but it does not rest until it has gained a hearing. Ultimately, after endlessly repeated rebuffs, it succeeds. This is one of the few points in which one may be optimistic about the future of mankind.”(8) . The intellect is concerned not only with achievement but also with emotional needs.

People need spiritual as well as material meaning. The vision then has to conform to many different pressures and levels of expectation. It must be pure in ethics, strategies, and philosophy to garner complete and unchanging support from those involved. The handling of this vision and its changing character or adaptation to a changing environment, and in response to comments ‘from below’ is the responsibility of the Leader. The vision may justly be amended if circumstance or comment warrants and as along as it satisfies the material and spiritual demands of the constituents.

If this has been accomplished it becomes the Leader’s responsibility to embrace the duties and obligations that grow from trust and power in doing what is necessary to make the vision happen. The Leader must therefore lead by example, show an overriding concern for the constituents. He must also do the essential things well – be proactive, reduce complexity, and seek improvement – all in the name of achieving the vision. In essence – action: “When the chips are down, the main question is not how you go about meeting your objectives, but whether you succeed in doing so.”(9) . The vision is nice. But without results it becomes hollow. To achieve the vision takes extraordinary energy, discipline and the judicious usage of power.

5. Power
The attainment and use of power is one of the most interesting investigations that we can undertake. It encompasses the fields of psychology, political relations, philosophy and biology. Yet much about power remains rooted in the primeval nature of man. As with any part of the primate family the human tribe has a pretty well developed organisation of power. In human society there are dominant hierarchies, with dominant males and some dominant females. These dominant leaders will exhibit certain levels of serotonin, and lower overall levels of stress, demonstrated in higher neurotransmitter activity. Within an organisation it can be observed that when a male’s position changes in the hierarchy so do these psychological markers. As well it can be observed that within these hierarchies there is a proclivity to imitate, and this is unidirectional, with lower primates imitating higher status animals. In the 20th century corporation the above principles are still valid. We call it company culture.

Thus we can state that if a Leader attains power he can expect his subordinates to imitate his movements and attitudes. But how then does the Leader establish this power ? In bygone eras force or hereditary status was enough to mark the primate’s role in the hierarchical league. But today this is hardly sufficient though brainpower replacing strength can be used to elevate one’s position in society. But power is not about the supremacy of muscle or grey matter, it also has to do with capturing the cognitive and emotional impulses and designs of others.

The motive force of much of human history has been the desire of individuals to achieve. To leave a legacy is a basic human need. From Cheops to Imperialists, to graffiti artists at the foot of the Great Wall, to encrypted radio signals scanning the universe and broadcasting our existence, the human seems especially concerned with his role in the order of time. Yet for most of us we must be concerned with daily survival and obtaining necessities and we have little of our energy is left for other purposes. Yet through chance, design or circumstance some of us, driven by imagination, or a combination of extraordinary skills, strive to reach the pinnacle.

Bertrand Russell paints succinctly, this struggle to attain power:
“Of the infinite desires of man, the chief are the desires for power and glory. These are not identical, though closely allied....As a rule, however, the easiest way to obtain glory is to obtain power; this is especially the case as regards men who are active in relation to public events. The desire for glory, therefore, prompts, in the main, the same actions as are prompted by the desire for power, and the two motives may, for most practical purposes, be regarded as one.”(10)

The study of power is vital. Men who love change and glory, utilise and usurp the levers of power. Key components of this journey are the concepts of intelligence, integrity and energy. But like the above, power has many forms. None can be thought of as subordinate to the other. Some weave power through communication (or oratory), some through example, others through sheer hard work, others through knowledge, and yet others by understanding the system and using it to their advantage. Or perhaps all of the aforementioned are employed. Though the conduits may vary, the result always justifies the means for those who seek to lead. Power is somewhat amorphous and dense. Much as some men’s characters lead them to command, some to follow, with the great majority stuck somewhere in between, so is power utilised by different people, in different ways to attain different results.

At the core of power seekers we have the great self confidence that lies not only on the surface, but penetrates deep into the subconscious. This self confidence necessary to a Leader may be caused or formed in various ways. It may come from childhood experiences, through early familial pressures, educational processes, years spent in independent struggle, support and advise by someone close, or a combination of these and other factors. Indeed the psychological profile of self confidence is one of the great holy grails of those who seek to measure intelligence and success. From my less scientific and casual observations I have noticed that those people in my life who are truly self-confident have a high degree of honesty, a past in which they really had to struggle to survive and achieve, and the support of someone close who acted as a sounding board and a buttress. Invariably they are open but stubborn in pursuing what they want. Interestingly as well they are optimistic people, optimistic not about the human character but optimistic about eventually achieving their own goals.

In any event these types of personalities and power seekers will inevitably run into other power seekers. If we observe for instance Cromwell, Napoleon, and Lenin, all dominated their respective countries and secured the willing service of able men who were not be nature by submissive. All three had boundless courage and self-confidence, combined with sound judgement. Crowmell and Lenin also happened to be men of profound religious faith believing themselves to be the appointed ministers of a non-human purpose. This faith gave them the courage to carry on when the task seemed lost. Yet they had the technical, human and visioning skills to suppress or direct highly competent and ambitious colleagues.

These men recognised that if one aspires to leadership one must acquire the position of leader, and he must excel in the qualities that confer authority: self-confidence, quick decision making, and skill in deciding upon the right measures are especially sought after by the mass when times become too confusing, threatening or generally incomprehensible. In the realm of politics or matters of state, issues are deemed by the mass to be too arcane, and have in the representative systems in use in the West, proxied their political interest to elected officials. This allows the toiler to subsist and focus on the immediate world and immediate needs.

As an interesting addition to the theme of power in researching the ‘great’ men and women of our century, I found some following antecedents, that could be assembled to describe many of those who achieved fame;
-lost father at early age (either through death or dissociation)
-precocious dependence on themselves evidenced at a very young age
-contrasting set of relations with their parents, with a fond affection for one, and a history of strife with the other
-iconoclastic, spurned socially acceptable way of success and still achieved it
-exhibited since child hood a risk taking and ability to go to great lengths to achieve ends, displaying a motive to gain power
-felt that they were special and stood out from colleagues
-good with words and expressions of sentiment

But such is the complexity of power and control, that only a cursory example can be given here of what constitutes its application. However, without a moral and judicious usage of power, based on character, intelligence, and a convincing vision, men will not be consigned to lead, or if they are, they will eventually be doomed to failure.

Craigread.com ©

======================
(1) Warren Bennis, in Fortune,
September 19, 1994 pp. 155-56.
(2) Krause
(3) C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man, pg. 20
(4) Gardner, p. 14
(5) Gardner, p. 16
(6) Leading Minds, Howard Gardner, HarperCollins, London, 1996, p. xiii
(7) Kreuse, p. 57
(8) Freud, The Future of an Illusion, NY., Anchor Books, 1957, pp. 96-97
(9) Kreuse, p. 50
(10) B. Russell, Power.


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