Unlocking the Heart and Soul of Remarkable Leadership, Keith Merron
Remarkable Leadership

Archive for October, 2012

Incongruities Abound

Saturday, October 27th, 2012

I saw a personal ad recently written

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by a woman who says: “It’s what’s inside a person that counts.” And yet it was clear she had done plastic surgery on herself.

I saw a politician recently base his platform on integrity, and yet he was rec

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ently in the news for having multiple affairs.

I saw a comedian recently, noted for his commitment to children, bash his audience in private.

One of the leaders of the Diversity Movement believes men in general are not to be trusted.

A noted celebrity who espouses health, takes drugs regularly and is a borderline anorexic.

A guru touts himself as a model of consciousness, while bedding women right and left, each of who prostrate themselves in awe.

These discrepancies in what we say and what we do are rampant in our culture to the point that we can’t trust what people say. And even more, we can’t trust what we say. If you watch people when they give speeches, more often than not, they are not ‘present.’ They are inauthentic. It is hard to see at first blush because we are so used to it that we don’t even pay attention. But if you listen with your heart, you will notice that the person’s body language, tone, and way of speaking feel and sound like used-car salesmen. They are pushing an idea with gusto and yet something is not right. Listen with your body. Does it feel credible or does it feel like a performance? More often than not, our leaders, the people we believe are our role models, the speakers on the motivational speaking circuit at doing schtick; they are ‘presenting’ and not ‘being.’

Why would that be? Why would speakers offering a message belt it out, without attention to their own authenticity? And why would we believe it?

We live in a society that looks for the quick fix. We are enamored with celebrity. We go for the brass ring, regardless of the incongruity in our efforts. We skate the surface of life so much so that we can’t even see that they and we are telling a story that is not real. And we are so disconnected with our deeper selves that we fall for our leaders’ tripe and we accept the message regardless of the authenticity of the presenter. And we cannot see that the person is inauthentic because we listen with hope, or with our minds, but not our bodies. Our bodies know the truth in others and in ourselves.

The antidote for this in our society escapes me at the moment. There are too many causes to mention. The antidote for this in ourselves as leaders is clear.

Stop it. Stop saying something that is not true. Stop presenting a message that is incongruent with who you are. Take a deep inventory of your life and clean it up, forever more. And if you find yourself doing something that is incongruous, don’t be satisfied to own up and apologize. Take a deep look and work out your issues until you reach a point where you are a model of integrity. Or simply stop espousing what is not true. It does no one any good. Most of all it does you no good. You perpetuate the model of the inauthentic leader and create a myth that cannot hold up in the eyes of a person who truly seeks to work with, and be led by, the real deal.

Horatio Nelson: A Great Leader

Saturday, October 13th, 2012

In the late eighteenth century Horatio Nelson was a brilliant British Admiral. Today he is often considered the greatest naval commander in history, and it is undeniable that he was a born leader. On October 21, 1805, Nelson engaged in what becam

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e known as the Battle of Trafalgar. With 27 ships against a French fleet of 33, he made his stand off Cadiz. His dispatch from the battle read as follows:

At daylight saw the Enemy’s Combined Fleet from East to E.S.E.; bore away; made the signal for Order of Sailing, and to Prepare for Battle; the Enemy with their heads to the Southward: at seven the Enemy wearing in succession. May the Great God, whom I worship, grant to my Country, and for the benefit of Europe in general, a great and glorious Victory; and may no misconduct in any one tarnish it; and may humanity after Victory be the predominant feature in the British Fleet. For myself, individually, I commit my life to Him who made me, and may his blessing light upon my endeavours for serving my Country faithfully. To Him I resign myself and the just cause which is entrusted to me to defend. Amen. Amen. Amen.

 

Although victorious in battle, Nelson was mortally wounded. As his statement about humanity attests, he saw great leadership as a means not just toward one resounding victory, but as part of an even larger cause. His defeated opponent, Admiral Villeneuve, said this about Nelson:

“To any other nation, the loss of Nelson would have been devastating. But in this battle, every captain was a Nelson.”

The French never seriously threatened the British again. Admiral Nelson was a great leader not only for his courage and valor in battle, but for the degree to which he inspired others to go beyond their limits, to reach new heights they never thought possible, and to find that golden flame within.

 

I’m inspired by his words, which speak to a spirit that is so crucial to my sense of what great leadership is all about. In the midst of the posturing that I see from leaders all around me, it is a message worth repeating.

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No leader, no matter how powerful and influential reaches the height of greatness until he or she can subordinate themselves to a higher cause, well beyond themselves. It is dedication to a higher cause and the ability to accept any guidance received that makes a leader brilliant, not by the number of people that follow. And, as in Nelson’s case, it is when leaders act in a way that inspires others to take up the mantle of leadership, that they themselves become remarkable.