Peacock Tales • Special Eidition 2018
It CAN Be Done!
We have often wondered what makes an exceptional leader. How would we recognize great leadership when we saw it?
It seems to start at the most fundamental level – humility (from humus or earth) – having a healthy respect for oneself, but without self-promotion. Exceptional leaders not only consider but seek out quality ideas and advice from others including those of us who are far junior in age, experience or talent.
Not only do exceptional leaders consider, but they seek to learn from other leaders, such as getting insights from a personal visit with anti-cold war and “great communicator” president Ronald Reagan, or stepping into a few “instructional” sets with tennis legends Bjorn Borg and Vitas Gerulaitis, or having a beneficial side-bar chat with human rights activist, peacemaker and Nobel Peace Prize winner South African Anglican cleric Desmond Tutu.
Being willing to advocate an unpopular or even professionally risky cause such as representing an innocent wife in a bitter divorce when the husband is a sitting judge, is also a trait of exceptional leadership. It’s called courage.
Exceptional leaders have a vision – sometimes a seemingly impossible one - that they are passionate about, such as organizing the campaign to raise $250 million for POLIOPLUS, the Rotary program designed to eradicate polio from the face of the earth. They make the self-sacrificing commitment to see the vision through in spite of language barriers, abject poverty conditions, a staggering need for private funding and other stifling obstacles.
There are two kinds of people in the world - bridge builders who unify people and fence builders who keep them apart. Bridge builders do wonderful things, like help two obsolete independent hospitals merge and form a unified and modern organization that has helped tens of thousands achieve one of the most fundamental of all human desires – having good health. Bridge builders also work to unify people on a much smaller, yet equally important scale, such as orchestrating and leading a chorus of yearling Peacock Keller recruits in a round of “Jingle Bells” at the annual holiday party.
Goals cannot be accomplished without leaders. Leaders would accomplish little without supporters. Enlisting support involves effectively communicating the goals and the tactical
approaches to achieve them. Good leaders effectively deliver planned remarks. Great leaders do more. They always have a speech in their “hip pocket” to seize unexpected opportunities to promote their mission.
Willingly sharing one’s experience and offering counsel to others solicitous of it is something exceptional leaders do selflessly. Such counsel can be something small, such as the most efficient way to work on a client file,or something more involved, such as the importance of speaking with the media when they call you for a comment on a high-profile case, or never going into a meeting “empty-handed”, that is, without something helpful to contribute.
In addition to all their qualities, sometimesexceptional leaders are the recipients of good fortune. Some would call it providence. Take for example, a burst of hot enemy shrapnel that explodes through the cockpit window of a B-17 bomber named “Gray Eagle”, flying at an oxygen-deprived and sub-zero temperature altitude over northern Germany, destroys the 21 year-old pilot’s oxygen mask, severs the throat mic that hugged his throat, shreds through his heated flak suit all the way down to his tee shirt, but never grazes a single skin cell. This was the first time in 28 bombing missions that the forgetful engineer had remembered to bring spare oxygen masks.
As Shakespeare said in Twelfth Night: "… some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them." Thanks, Chuck, for inspiring us with these and countless other examples of all three from your storied life, including that small but insightful four-word plaque sitting prominently on the front edge of your desk “It CAN Be Done”.
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