Friday, June 15, 2012

A definition of leadership: Ken Follett

Here is a story and definition of leadership that struck a positive note with me.

From the book "On Wings of Eagles" about the daring rescue of two EDS executives from the clutches of a vengeful Iranian government during the final weeks of the Shah's reign.

"But negotiations for the release of Paul and Bill were stalled, and Perot wanted to go to Tehran to kick ass in one last attempt at a legitimate solution before Simons and the team risked their lives in an assault on the prison."

"There had been times, in business, when EDS had been ready to admit defeat but had gone on to victory because Perot himself had insisted on going one more mile: this was what leadership was all about."

"That was what he told himself, and it was all true, but there was another reason for his trip.  He simply could not sit in Dallas comfortable and safe, while other people risked their lives on his instructions."

"He knew only too well that if he were jailed in Iran, he, and his colleagues, and his company, would be in much worse trouble than they were now.  Should he do the prudent thing, and stay, he had wondered - or should he follow his deepest instincts, and go?  It was a moral dilemma.  He had discussed it with his mother."

"She knew she was dying.  And she knew that, even if Perot should come back alive and well after a few days, she might no longer be there.  Cancer was rapidly destroying her body, but there was nothing wrong with her mind, and her sense of right and wrong was a clear as ever. "You don't have a choice, Ross," she had said.  "They're your men.  You sent them over there.  They didn't do anything wrong.  Our government won't help them.  You are responsible for them.  It's up to you to get them out.  You have to go."

"So here he was, feeling that he was doing the right thing, if not the smart thing."


From "On Wings of Eagles by Ken Follett
William Morrow and Company, Inc.  New York  1983

Mike Nally
Lead Your Way Solutions

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