The Art of Leadership

Leadership has been defined by some as organizing a group of people to achieve a common goal. Motivating the will and harnessing the skill of others in pursuit of an outcome is both an art and a science. Some have an innate gift while others work to develop and cultivate the function, behavior, vision, values, charisma and intelligence to be a successful leader.

We have all seen good and bad examples of leadership throughout or lives from the fields of friendly strife in sports, to professional experience, in service to the country and personally as parents, friends and role models.

Truly, great leadership is rooted in the ability to influence a desired behavior in others, not compel it. The notion of opting into an outcome rather than being told to act brings me back to something I learned while a cadet at West Point: Schofield’s Definition of Discipline.

“The discipline which makes the soldiers of a free country reliable in battle is not to be gained by harsh or tyrannical treatment. On the contrary, such treatment is far more likely to destroy than to make an army. It is possible to impart instructions and to give commands in such a manner and in such a tone of voice as to inspire in the soldier no feeling but an intense desire to obey, while the opposite manner and tone of voice cannot fail to excite strong resentment and a desire to disobey. The one mode or other of dealing with subordinates springs from a corresponding spirit in the breast of the commander. He who feels the respect which is due others cannot fail to inspire in them regard for himself; while he who feels, and hence manifests, disrespect toward other, especially his inferiors, cannot fail to inspire hatred against himself.”

As I reflect on world events, corporate situations in which I have found myself and personal experiences, I value the early leadership I witnessed with coaches, in the military and during my career – leaders who possessed a solid moral compass, understood how to employ people and resources in accordance with their capabilities, shared guidance and coaching, embraced growth opportunities and displayed an innate concern for those whom they were leading in the achievement of success.

In the Boston technology and social business community in which I find myself today, I am proud to be part of the team.