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Monday, December 10, 2007

You Don't Lead By Hitting People Over The Head

'You don't lead by hitting people over the head - that's assault, not leadership - Dwight Eisenhower'

Dwight Eisenhower was the Allied Supreme Commander in WWII and President of the United States. He was a man who knew about leadership in a variety of difficult circumstances.

What he says is very true. Having the job title does not make you a leader. Leadership is about having the credibility in your authority so people will follow you. Having the ability to inspire confidence, belief and action is about you and your conviction. Bludgeoning people - either verbally or physically - is assault and the indication that a person is not a leader.

Think of the qualities of a leader. Leaders are able to see and communicate a vision. They are able to steer a course to get there - and they make those around them want to get there. Leaders come in many types. Both Winston Churchill and St. Francis of Assisi were leaders; very different in their styles, but both able to convince people to see their future and follow them.

When I was a child I came to the UK to see my grandparents. I visited many places, but three which stood out in my mind were Salisbury Cathedral, Westminster, and The Tower. One thing that impressed me as a young child was not just how old they were, but how long they took to build. When I got older I realised how many generations that was - and that it meant that those who originally conceived the project knew they were unlikely to see the final product. Their vision had to be so strong and so well communicated that it survived generations. That is leadership - to see the future, inspire others to see it and to have faith that it will happen.

Who has inspired you? Maybe a teacher who made you see who you could be. Maybe your parents or grandparents. Maybe a boss.

Now let me ask you this: who are you inspiring?

Remember how it felt to be inspired - to see not what could be but what will be. Pass that gift on to someone today.

Beth Peakall -


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