Archive for December 29th, 2008

Leading By Example – One Way Or Another

Monday, December 29th, 2008

Those of you who are regular visitors to this site – and if you are, God bless you – will notice that I’ve added a new category, as of today: Leadership.

The lovely Gina Tanner, who has started a computer instruction service of her own in recent months, asked me to include some thoughts on this topic from time to time. Perhaps – now that she is in business for herself – all the quotes I am forever collecting will have a more personal relevance for her.

And it is indeed a subject which is dear to my heart. As a bandleader, businessman, and a family guy, I am always looking for a new insight or suggestion that will make me better at my various jobs. There are certainly no shortage of books and websites offering advice. The trouble with most of them is that they seem to all be saying “this is the way,” when the truth is that there are an almost infinite number of ways to lead.

Any quote by General Patton will be pithy and memorable, and he certainly was an amazing leader. But then so was Mother Teresa, and her management style couldn’t have been more different than “Old Blood And Guts.”

In my own life, I have even learned a lot from people whose actions showed me how not to act. These have included both bosses who were of the “my way or the highway” persuasion, as well as others who – in Boone Pickens’ words – tended to say “Ready, Aim… Aim… Aim…” endlessly. Because I remember all too well how both of these extremes made me feel, I make an ongoing effort not to duplicate their mistakes.

So, as a comment worth sharing strikes me, look for more entries dealing with leaders and leadership styles. I’ll warn you up front that – once I get on this topic – one thought tends to lead quickly to another. For instance, one of my favorite quotes (whose origin is unfortunately unknown to me) is:

“A leader leads by example – whether he intends to or not.”

From childhood on, we learn who are – and who are not – real leaders, simply by watching those who would aspire to leadership. If we see them set a good example, we may follow them. If not, we won’t (hopefully.) But – either way, and for better or worse – their actions cause a reaction in us.

Sometimes that reaction is to say, “Even I can do better than that,” and become leaders ourselves. Which fits in neatly with this closing thought from Ralph Nader:

“I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.”