An Essay on Leadership

“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because they want to do it.”

– Dwight D. Eisenhower

I’ve always defined leadership as that unique combination of dynamic drive, perception (including a keen ability to observe) and intelligence. The very intelligent people who lack drive get nowhere. Those gifted with an enormous quantity of drive but lacking in intelligence will go in the wrong direction at a terrific pace. Observation is the key to intelligence. 

It is important to note that most people want good leaders and want to follow them.

How does one become a leader? Is there a certain personality type that rises to the top? What gives one the right to lead? Is it decided by divine intervention?  Do people have it as a birthright?

There are probably a hundred reasons why people move into leadership positions, some of them very good and many of them very bad. This article is about the good reasons and will attempt to outline what a first-rate leader is, what they are made of and why they achieve success.

Let’s take leadership from the perspective of the work-a-day world of the business executive, as this is its most applicable aspect for our discussion.

Leadership could be characterized as the ability of an individual to overcome all obstacles in directing a team’s activities to get the job done despite all reasons encountered to do otherwise.

Some lead through inspiration, others through intimidation and still others through a combination of the two.  Good leaders lead through their own example. 

The true mark of the best executives is their ability to complete tasks and their persistence and tenacity in doing so.  They get more done than anyone around them and they are not prone to the common distractions that sidetrack others off their intended undertaking. They are dynamic with a sense of urgency as regards their mission.  Good leaders are not quitters but at the same time a good leader does not pick a fight he can’t win and when he finds that he has, he gives up the battle and re-strategizes for the ultimate victory and wins the war.  They know that any worthwhile objective can be achieved and will do whatever is necessary, within the bounds of good, ethical judgment to win.

Good leaders are normally very intelligent people who understand the situations and the tasks surrounding them better than anyone else.  They are extremely competent and for this reason they tend to be admired while never asking for any acknowledgement. They surround themselves with competent subordinates and for this very reason they set themselves up for the chaos of divergent opinions.

A good leader can coordinate his executives and convince them all to move forward in the same direction at the same time knowing that this is the only hope for everyone’s success.  A good leader can see the future and therefore can predict what opposing elements are developing and take steps to overcome their actions.

Good leaders are themselves an example of what they preach and they live disciplined lives and demand and get compliance from those around them knowing full well people do not comply simply because they are supposed to.

Good leaders possess an unmistakable freedom of spirit that allows for the petty foibles of the men and women around them.  They grant their subordinates the freedom to make the decisions of their positions.

Good leaders operate with a decent motive in their actions. They are always willing to communicate and do so prolifically and refuse to recognize distinctions that bar their freedom of correspondence with men of all description, no matter their position in life, race, color or creed.

Good leaders have visions and goals and perspective that allow them to see the bigger picture and get others to see and embrace these goals as well. Good leaders operate off a sense of that which is best for the many and disallow arbitrary discrimination of good men.

Good leaders award the productive people in their ranks and penalize those who bring the entire team down through their sloth and incompetence.

Good leaders can inspire men to walk through Hades in the full knowledge that they will reach their ultimate objective.

Good leaders are very few and a civilization is very wise to embrace them as the world is carried on their backs and every civilization’s forward progress can be traced back through their footsteps.

– Ron Norton

Copyright © 2019 by Ronald C. Norton