Quick Link: Solitude and Leadership

Go here to read all of William Deresiewicz’s speech to the plebes of West Point in October 2009. Relevant quote:

We have a crisis of leadership in America because our overwhelming power and wealth, earned under earlier generations of leaders, made us complacent, and for too long we have been training leaders who only know how to keep the routine going. Who can answer questions, but don’t know how to ask them. Who can fulfill goals, but don’t know how to set them. Who think about how to get things done, but not whether they’re worth doing in the first place. What we have now are the greatest technocrats the world has ever seen, people who have been trained to be incredibly good at one specific thing, but who have no interest in anything beyond their area of exper­tise. What we don’t have are leaders.

Being a leader is about asking questions, challenging assumptions and the status quo. It’s about being willing to stick your neck out to do something you believe is right before anyone else is willing to follow you. What Deresiewicz describes in the quote above is a manager, not a leader. You don’t manage any organization into a bold new direction. To set the pace, you need leaders.

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