Leadership and Perspective

The higher the mountain on which you stand, the less change in the prospect from year to year, from age to age. Above a certain height there is no change — Henry Thoreau.

This blog is about leadership — its nature and practice. Leadership is also about having perspective. As Thoreau wrote, the higher you are, the less you see the need for change. I really didn’t think much about leadership as a youngster. Difficult to do so when my parents moved annually to another residence and school for me. I never ran for school assembly, high school club president, or sought to be captain of my wrestling or football team.

Instead, I was introduced to leadership as a young Marine recruit, 18 years of age. I was content to follow. But one day I was called into my drill instructor’s hut and asked if I wanted to be the student platoon leader – Right Guide. I said “yes.” I don’t know why, but I did, and it propelled me forward for the next sixty decades of my life.

From this first experience, I went on to be leader of a rifle squad, organized a martial arts school, taught police recruits, became a chief of police in two cities, and a parish priest.

Who should be a leader? Those among us who love responsibility and accountability, have a vision of excellence in what they and others do, take great joy and care in the personal growth of those whom they are privileged to lead, and have perspective — that is, they are able to see the big picture and understand the situation and feelings of others.

Having perspective is gaining knowledge of others and their situation OUTSIDE of your organization as well as what is going on INSIDE of it.

I call it “moccasin walking;” to be able to walk in another’s shoes; what it is to be the “other.”

Now this is not easy. In fact, it might result in you being sanctioned , even disliked by your peers (who are, by the way, often most comfortable in keeping things just the way they are).

I put together the following video because I want to emphasize how strongly I feel about this.

Sometimes written words are not enough…