09 Jan Leadership Matters. Here’s Why.
With special thanks to author Nancy Koehn, whose book, Forged in Crisis: The Power of Courageous Leadership should be a mandatory read for every individual who honors and respects its influence on history. Koehn offers the story of five people whose leadership journeys are simultaneously stunning, sobering, and incredibly motivating. From polar explorer Ernest Shackleton to abolitionist Frederick Douglass – a fascinating insight into the adversity furnaces that sometimes forge steel.
Nancy’s reference to American writer David Foster Wallace reminds again how truly elusive – and yet profound – legitimate leadership really is. Wallace once wrote,
“A leader’s true authority is a power you voluntarily give him, and you grant him this authority not in a resigned or resentful way but happily; it feels right. Deep down, you almost always like how a real leader makes you feel, how you find yourself working harder and pushing yourself and thinking in ways you wouldn’t be able to if there weren’t this person you respected and believed in and wanted to please.”
There might be a better definition of what authentic leadership is – or should be – but in an era when it seems to be in increasingly short supply – a reminder to all.
Koehn’s cites Wallace’s comments in a long ago Rolling Stone article when he speaks to a leader as someone “who can help us overcome the limitations of our own individual laziness and selfishness and weakness and fear and get us to do better, harder things than we can get ourselves to do on our own.”
Legitimate leaders forged the foundation on which much of human history has been built.
They remain our single greatest hope for the future.