I have gravitated and sought leadership positions from adolescence into adulthood. The urge to lead was based on many desires not easily defined at the time, but now with the benefit of age and study, I can see that my early leadership positions were gained for personal benefits such as securing a position in the group, gaining influence or control, perceived benefits of position. There were natural reasons given my emotional make-up and family background. I gained a rudimentary understanding of what it takes to gain a position of leadership.
With an academic record of underachievement and a $10,000 lawsuit to repay by the age of 18, I sought refuge in the Army. There I met personal accountability in the form of frustrated, perpetually angry enforcers called Sergeants. I was able to understand and adjust ahead of peers enough to both graduate from the Army’s premier experiential leadership course – Ranger School and to become a Sergeant as well. Both experiences enhanced my understanding of the techniques and expectations of leadership and command.
I entered the business world after college and was lucky enough to join a company where strength, creativity, work ethic and results were handsomely rewarded. I thrived. In fact, over time, I was promoted to Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer before I was 35. I was, by many standards, a very successful leader. At issue was my standard of leadership.
What kind of leader did I want to be and why?
These two important questions were unanswered. So I committed to find out what kind of leader I should be. Warning – this choice should not be taken lightly. In many ways the physical traumas of Ranger school were preferable to the rigors and trials of personal transformation.
After countless hours of executive coaching, reading best-selling management books, hundreds of walks with my wife, completing a Master Degree in Organizational Leadership – I finally found a short paragraph written by a great Servant Leader, Robert Greenleaf….
"The enemy is not the system. The real enemy is fuzzy thinking on the part of good, intelligent, vital, people, and their failure to lead. Too many people settle for being critics and experts. There is too much intellectual wheel spinning, too much retreat into “research,” too little preparation for and willingness to undertake the hard, and sometimes corrupting, tasks of building better institutions in an imperfect world, too little disposition to see “the problem” as residing in here and not out there.
In short, the enemy is servants who have the potential to lead but do not lead." Robert Greenleaf - The Servant as Leader 1970
These words, read at a moment in time when I truly sought inspiration and direction, rocked me to the core. These words both forced me and allowed me to challenge all my assumptions regarding leadership. They helped language the what and why for me.
So here I am.
I hope to serve the cause of positive leadership development for the benefit of mankind and the world in which we live.
My goal is to help others find the leader within themselves so they can and will do the same.