Leadership is a commitment to an idea, to a dream, and to a vision of what can be. And my dream is for my land and my people to cease fighting and allow our children to reach their full potential regardless of sex, status, or belief.
The primitive and often even atavistic aspects of the battlefield test the physical and mental agility of everyone, but most of what it tests is the courage and the spiritual side of the troops we put in harm’s way. And oftentimes it’s only unit cohesion, leadership and the belief in themselves and their comrades that allows them to go through what they have to go through and come home as better men and women, not as broken. And so the Warrior Ethos is not a luxury, it is essential when you have a military.
The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.
A sense of humor can be a great help–particularly a sense of humor about (oneself). William Howard Taft joked about his own corpulence and people loved it; took nothing from his inherent dignity. Lincoln eased tense moments with bawdy stories, and often poked fun at himself–and history honors him for this human quality. A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.
A leader is best when people barely know that he exists, not so good when people obey and acclaim him, worst when they despise him. Fail to honor people, They fail to honor you. But of a good leader, who talks little, when his work is done, his aims fulfilled, they will all say, “We did this ourselves.”
It was a false maxim of Domitian that he who would gain the people of Rome must promise all things and perform nothing. For when a man is known to be false in his word, instead of a column, which he might be by keeping it, for others to rest upon, he becomes a reed, which no man will vouchsafe to lean upon. Like a floating island, when we come next day to seek it, it is carried from the place we left it in, and, instead of earth to build upon, we find nothing but inconstant and deceiving waves.