As part of our “Lessons in Leadership–Hollywood Style” project, our group examined the leadership styles and ethical dilemmas found in the powerful 1993 film Schindler’s List.
- Director: Steven Spielberg
- Writers: Thomas Keneally (who wrote the orginial book), Steven Zillian (screenplay)
- Stars: Liam Neeson (Oskar Schindler), Ralph Finnes (Itzhak Stern), Ben Kingsley (Amon Goeth)
- Summary: Based on a true story, Schindler’s List follows the transformation of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman (and declared Nazi) who uses his power as a factory owner to rescue more than 1,100 of his Jewish workers from death. (Spoiler Alert! For those who haven’t seen the film but wish to learn more, click here.)
There were two key leadership styles we identified in this film: transformational and autocratic.
Oskar Schindler, the main character and unlikely hero of the film, truly demonstrates characteristics of a transformational leader. As the film opens, it’s clear Schindler is a savvy, charismatic businessman who will stop at nothing to make a fortune. So, when Nazi law encourages the exploitation of Jews as workers, Schindler jumps at the chance to take advantage of the scenario (despite knowing the exploitation is wrong). However, as World War II progresses—and the fate of the Jews becomes more and more clear—Schindler slowly transforms from a greedy war profiteer to a courageous, sympathetic leader determined to use his power (and persuasive charisma) for good. Sacrificing his safety and wealth to help others, Schindler bravely stands up for what he believes in through bribing Nazi/SS commanders to protect his Jewish workers and keep his factory a safe “sub-camp” for them. Demonstrating courage, kindness, assertiveness and charisma—all in the face of one of history’s most ruthless regimes—Schindler provides an extraordinary example of leadership still relevant today.
On the other hand, the antagonist of the film–Nazi commander Amon Goeth–is an autocratic leader, using a ruthless, authoritarian leadership style to assert his power and control over the Jews of the Plaszów work camp. Deeply entrenched in Nazi philosophy, Goeth rarely listens to input from others, refuses to admit he is wrong for fear of showing weakness and dictates all decisions in the camp–including shooting random prisoners from his Villa balcony for fun.
THE TURNING POINT
Because Schindler’s List is set during World War II, the ethical dilemmas are essentially embedded in the tumultuous plot–an intersection of conflict rooted in politics, business and humanity. However, there is an important turning point in the film where Schindler begins to struggle internally and the main ethical dilemma of the film arises. As Schindler witnesses the violent and dramatic evacuation of the Polish Kraków ghetto, he sees a little Jewish girl in a red coat aimlessly wandering the dirty streets. Sticking out among the black and white images of the film, it becomes evident that the girl awakens a form of humanity in Schindler. It is from this point forward that Schindler begins making a personal effort to bring Jews to safety in his factory–and, consequently, has to bribe, work with, and obey members of the Nazi regime (like Goeth).
- Schindler’s List was shot mostly in black and white.
- The film is based on the novel Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally, an Australian novelist.
- At the time the film was released (1993), there were fewer than 4,000 Jews left alive in Poland. It is estimated that there are more than 6,000 descendants of the Schindler Jews today.
- The film is being re-released by Universal Studios on DVD March 5th of this year! You can check out the new trailer and how to buy the DVD here.
Because I’ll probably never have the chance to do it again, I’m going to analyze the leadership of three characters from the first book of George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, “A Game of Thrones,” which will pretty much match the characters in the HBO television show, “Game of Thrones.” This show revolves around the concept of leadership and what it means to have power over others. It’s an incredibly complex and enjoyable story that always keeps me pondering a person’s sense of responsibility over others versus their own wellbeing.
Eddard Stark — Servant leader, bureaucratic leader. As the ruler of the North, Stark truly cares about his subjects and justice. Unfortunately, he’s about the only character in this story who holds a sense of righteousness. When children die, he thinks it’s wrong, no matter whose side of the political gridlock they’re on. But everyone else considers dead children another loss in their quest for power. Stark also believes in the classic succession in a monarchy that relates to one’s blood. When Stark finds out that King Baratheon did not beget his heir, Stark attempts to tell the king, but then the King dies. So Stark writes the deceased king’s brother and tells him to declare himself king. Stark had the chance to tell King Baratheon about this issue with the heir, but chose not to for the sake of the heir, who is a child. He did not want the kingdom to revolt and kill the boy who lied about being heir. He did not want children to die. Because of these actions, he loses his head. This willingness to save lies and follow the rules makes Stark a classic servant leader and bureaucratic leader.
King Robert Baratheon — Laissex-Faire leader. I know this term was not taught to us in class, but it fits King Baratheon best of all the types. Quite frankly, he is a terrible leader, and can’t help it. He won the throne because he was an incredible warrior, and battled his way to the top. Baratheon says, “When I won the throne I thought I would be able to do whatever I wanted.” He did not realize the responsibility that followed the Iron Thrones (as they call it in the book). Baratheon cannot handle politics. When people wage war with words, he walks out of the room. He is best at wielding a battle axe. While he has some sense of justice, he has no idea how to instill it in the seven kingdoms. He leaves his small council to rule the kingdom while he gorges himself on feasts and women.
Daenerys Targaryen — Servant leader, charismatic leader, transformational leader. Exiled to the Eastern lands, Targaryen enters the book at a weak, abused 14-year-old girl. She ends the books as a confident, powerful queen (who is still 14-years-old!). This transformation is incredibly well-told by Martin. When Daenerys’ brother sells her to be the wife a Dothraki horselord (essentially a Mongolian), Daenerys is frightened and innocent. But as the book progresses, Daenerys slowly morphs into her role of power, calling herself khaleesi and convincing her horselord husband to take back the Seven Kingdoms in the West. Her powerful message and sense of confidence radiates to those around her, and even in her weakest state she holds command over others. She never lets go of her goal, which makes her transformational. She always acts with grace and confidence, which makes her charismatic. And she always works for what she thinks is the good of others, which makes her a servant leader.
Overall, leadership in Game of Thrones varies with each character. But those struggles of power and the conflict grip the reader into an obsession that won’t end until book seven in released.
In a move described as “the largest transaction in the history of the food business,” Warren Buffett recently acquired another multimillion-dollar company to add to his portfolio: H. J. Heinz Company. Known as one of the most successful and wealthiest investors in the world, Buffet’s acquisition of the ketchup company could make him the owner of the most highly-leveraged U.S. food manufacturer (with a market value greater than $5 billion!), according to Bloomberg data.
It’s no secret that Buffett consistently grows strong brands and produces above-average returns on his investments—his nickname is “the Oracle of Omaha,” after all. But, Buffett is not perfect. He’s had a series of serious investment mistakes in the energy industry, and was completely wrong in his forecast that the housing industry would quickly bounce back and become profitable. So what makes Buffett such a great leader? Why is his name recognized above thousands of other investors who are younger or more profitable?
Buffett has stated multiple times that he values his public image, which is one of the reasons why is he a huge philanthropist (and is so admired). The author of Amazon.com’s top-selling biography, Buffett makes it a point to be transparent in his business strategies and personal life. In fact, Buffet was the first to break the news to the press that he was diagnosed with Stage 1 prostate cancer once he found out.
Just as Scott Pansky mentioned in his discussion on cause marketing Monday, transparency is key in establishing a brand partnership that people see as authentic and trust—which is exactly what Buffett has done to craft his success and become a respected leader. Buffett recognizes his strengths and weakness, and uses this self-identity to influence others.
I’d even venture to say that one of the reasons he’s so successful is because he follows a horizontal leadership approach, bringing fresh perspectives to his investments through constantly working with others and recognizing feedback.
Do you agree that Warren Buffett should be a respected leader? Do you think others could follow his transparency strategy and be successful?
Growing up in a large, Italian family is a lot of fun—when you’re not the baby. As the youngest of seven grandchildren, I was always the one who was left out at family gatherings. I was “too short” to play basketball with the boys, “too young” to watch TV with the girls, and “too fidgety” to listen to the grown-ups in their robust discussions. I was always told to “go somewhere else.”
So, naturally, I went to the one place I knew someone would welcome me—the kitchen. No matter what circumstance, my Nana was always in the kitchen preparing food for the family. Whether she knew of my ostracizing or simply wanted company, I’ll never know. But, she always welcomed me and found something for me to do, somehow weaving in a life lesson with each activity.
Thus, it only seems appropriate that one summer evening she taught me one of my first lessons in leadership. Engrossed in a picture I was drawing, I remember becoming upset that I didn’t have the color I wanted to complete the picture. (I guess you could say I was a bit of a high maintenance child.)
My Nana told me not to cry, because she had just bought a new set of crayons that she left in the cellar.
I was petrified of the cellar. Old, dark and smelly, the cellar was my least favorite part of my house, and she knew it. I told her I didn’t want to go into the cellar, and that I’d just leave my picture unfinished.
She turned around from the stove, placed her hands on her petite frame, and uttered a statement I’ll never forget: “Nicole Marie Lavella. How dare you abandon all of that hard work! Some of the hardest things in life require the scariest steps.”
My Nana taught me many leadership qualities—patience, the ability to work with others, encouragement. But, most of all, my Nana taught me courage. She taught me how to tackle my fears—and how to lead others in the same way.
by Sara Steffan
My leadership lesson came recently (or my memory doesn’t go very far back!) when I was deciding where to go to college in Fall 2008/early Spring 2009.
My parents gave me the opportunity to attend any college I wanted, and they would help with my tuition up to $25,000 per year. I remember thinking at the time that this was one of the first chances I had ever had at making a substantive decision about my future, and the fact that it was coming with financial support what more than I even could have imagined.
So it quickly became one of the most exciting things to ever happen to me, but at the same time it completely overwhelmed me. I wanted a pre-professional program with a focus on writing and communication. Journalism seemed like a natural fit.
But where did I want to go? Location was an important factor that I did not anticipate having such influence on my decision. And, more importantly, cost – when did schooling become so expensive? My top choice at the time, Syracuse University, was $44,000 per year. My scholarship only knocked $4,000 off the price tag; even with my parents’ help, I would still be paying $15,000 a year with student loans.
When I got an offer letter from ASU that ended up covering almost all of my tuition, I had to think long and hard about how much location was important to me. Did I want to be close to my family in upstate New York? Or did I want to venture further and eventually, have almost complete financial freedom?
Leadership isn’t just about leading others. Great leaders also have to show personal responsibility and skillful decision-making about their own lives. When I decided to come to ASU, even though it was something I’d never considered until that letter arrived in the mail, I felt confident that my future was now in my hands and that I was able to successfully manage the responsibility my parents had given me. And being able to shoulder that weight was one of the most important lessons I’ve learned about myself thus far.
My dad has always served as a role model since I was very young. His sense of humor and infallible optimism have guided me through many challenges where I emerged as a stronger, self-assured person. One example was in fourth grade, when the awkward years of adolescence loomed and the bullying began. The other kids loved to pick on the skinny, exuberant, hyper Harmony. It didn’t bother me much, because I had friends who didn’t say mean things or judge me. Regardless, my dad always told me they were jealous, which wasn’t necessarily true, but it kept my self-confidence aflame and my weird flag high in the sky.
But my dad’s “they’re jealous” adage was not the true leadership skill I learned from him. The real lesson emerged when another girl took the bullying to the next level by writing something like “I’m stinky” on a piece of lined paper (I can’t remember what the paper really said, but it was some immature statement), covering it in glue, and slapping it across my back.
They had moved beyond words to physical harassment, and my teacher noticed. Really, to me, it wasn’t a big deal. The glue seeped through my shirt, but 8-year-old Harmony merely giggled with the rest of them, not understanding their intentions. But my teacher witnessed the whole shenanigan and immediately sent the culprit to the Principal’s Office, with me for testimony. Mrs. Smith (the principal), was frighteningly furious at the bully. She explained how spiteful the student’s actions had been, and punished my classmate with suspension (I think that’s what it was? I know she got in big trouble).
So for the rest of the day I played the part of victim, taking full advantage of my poor, bullied persona and getting attention and apology from everyone in class. Even though I hadn’t been particularly torn up about the now-punished girl’s gesture, I now acted like it pained me deeply. Oh what a world where people can glue things to other people’s backs!
When I got home, my parents repeated the usual slew of “you’re better than them”s and “you are so special”s. I was mostly excited about getting their extra attention, as the incident was already slowly fading from my memory.
In fact, I probably would have forgotten this entire fourth grade fiasco if my dad had not sat by me on the couch later that evening. He held my hand and explained the cruel nature of the world, something I had heard before. But then he began to discuss the other girl’s feelings. Her motivations. Her doubts. Her pressures. Though I had heard the jealousy speech countless times before, this time the concept finally reached my 4th grade psyche: empathy.
Dad explained that the girl had probably expected my friendship from the gesture. She thought it would be a funny prank and that we might laugh about it together. Where the school had seen cruel bullying, my dad saw a child’s joke. I should not see the punished girl as a mean, heartless attacker, but as a girl confused and lonely. From this discussion with my dad, I learned that even the most horrible should be understood in some sense. While I don’t sympathize with the worst people, murderers and rapists, I do understand now that they can have feelings and doubts, like any other human beings.
And, more importantly, people are not good or bad. It all depends on one’s perspective.
A leader tries to understand other people. A leader does not simply categorize others as smart, beautiful, helpful or polite. A leader gets to know people by listening to them and empathizing with their concerns.
While my dad is not the most empathetic person I know, he is a charming, dedicated and thoughtful father. After hearing his advice, I regretted my gloated sorrow from earlier in the day. From then on, I reacted with my own sense of understanding, rather than simply playing the part for others around me. The perspective he gave me after that simple bullying dilemma has stuck with me, and always will.
When we got a question to think about early childhood and person who influenced us to be proactive for the first time in our lives, that made me really travel deep into my memories and for sure I have found there so many things that I haven’t think about for a long, long time…
I was always hyperactive and impatient person.. Probably even before I was born. I came to this world one month earlier than it should be.. My mother told me that I haven’t crawl at all, that my first move was trying to walk.. They probably took from me my favorite toy or something very important for me at that time… I admit I really know to be stubborn sometimes…
But what I do remember, a little bit blurry but still remember, is that I start to swim when I was 5 or 6 years old.. My father had a lot of influence on me.. I was really close to him, and he was example that I always followed in life.. And I do remember that we were playing with a ball in the sea.. On the invisible edge where already with next step I would be in deeper water.. And he wanted to teach me how to swim.. And I wanted to make him proud of me.. Probably defiance inside of me made me swim in order to reach the ball.. and not to ask for help… Human nature is really tricky…
Later on in my life, during the war time I could, for sure, say that my mother proved me that she is one of the strongest leaders that I have ever met in my life..and probably the strongest that I would ever meet.. She faced difficult choices and conditions and make, not just herself, but all of us go through them..
And I have learned a lot from her, about human will and patience…
Life is a miracle, and if we have a love and passion for something, we can make it.. for sure…
As a non-partisan voter, I came into the first presidential debate tonight with an open mind to take note of what leadership qualities each candidate brought to the table. But after watching the entire debate and following it on Twitter, it was hard to find a large amount of leadership qualities in our current president Barack Obama in comparison with Mitt Romney. Although I’ll confess I’m not up to speed with every single issue discussed in the debate and BOTH candidates probably were in need of fact checks, my opinion sided with the general consensus that could be found on Twitter or Facebook: Romney took round one of the debates.
While Obama seemed uncomfortable, condescending and often bored during the debate, Romney spoke with enthusiasm and speed. He furiously scribbled down notes while Obama was talking and responded well. Many pointed out his creepy and almost condescending smile while Obama was talking, but the fact that this was made into such a big deal just points out how truly boring Obama’s speeches were: he meandered off topic, he went off on tangents and he spoke so slowly that the pace of the debate slowed to a standstill every time it was his turn. Obama spoke for four more minutes than Romney did, but Romney probably said a lot more with his time. Despite the creepy smile, Romney seemed attentive whenever Obama spoke while the president looks angry and frustrated when it was Romney’s turn. Romney looked at Obama for the majority of the debate, which many people (mostly pro-Obama people, I noticed) pointed out, saying that Obama was addressing the nation as opposed to Romney addressing one man. However, I think that since these are debates, Romney challenging Obama like that was a smart decision because it rattled him, it allowed Romney to go on the offensive and because Obama ended up looking like he didn’t want to engage Romney.
I noticed both leaders used their hands a lot when they spoke and they often clasped them in front of their bodies, two signs of authoritative leaders. Both were respectful to their opponents, although a little more courtesy should have been thrown to poor Jim Lehrer. The biggest difference between the two in tonight’s debate was attitude and passion. Romney spoke quickly and had an urgent tone to his voice while Obama stuttered and stumbled through most of his responses. Romney looked excited and passionate about the issues while Obama talked about figures and facts like a schoolteacher trying to educate an annoying student. He even treated Lehrer that way when he told him “I had five seconds before you interrupted me.” This little quip came off as funny, but there definitely was a hint of frustration behind it.
For the majority of people on Twitter, it seemed that what was being said wasn’t nearly as important as how it was being delivered and in that category, Romney dominated with enthusiasm and a few surprising instances of humor. It may have been because the president was rusty, but Romney seemed to be in peak debate form with crisp and clean responses as opposed to Obama’s long and drawn-out speeches. In basketball or football, if you’re going up against a high-scoring powerhouse, you want to dominate the time of possession and slow down the pace if you want to win, but unfortunately for Obama, that’s not the way to go in a presidential debate. Keep in mind, this is all coming from an independent, which is the big category of people that candidates are trying to win over with these debates. A leader should be enthusiastic and inspire through their passion. Tonight, Obama didn’t even come close to doing that. He provided facts and figures, sure, but their delivery didn’t motivate me to get up off the couch and vote for the president to be reelected. So despite Romney’s “creepy smirk” and the possibility of Big Bird being canned, round one goes to Mittens.
V For Vendetta is a fictional story set in a post-modern England about a futuristic government that has taken complete control over its citizens, ruling with an iron fist. The high chancellor Adam Sutler is the fascist dictator in charge, a horrible man who censors the people, depriving them of their freedom and using terror and violence to keep them in line and obedient. As part of his rise to power, he hired men to round up those considered to be less than pure in Nazi-like concentration camps, where scientists developed a deadly virus, testing it on those in the camps. One man escaped the testing as the labs were enveloped in fire, but the government’s testing was successful, allowing them to unleash it on their own people, plunging the nation into chaos. In that chaos, the people turned to Sutler as their savior before he enslaved them all and ruled with an iron fist.
Meanwhile, the man known as V, who escaped the camp and developed enhanced kinesthetic reflexes and strength, plots his revenge, waiting to kill the members of the political party responsible for all those atrocities. He blows up a political building, overrides the country’s rigged news station, and broadcasts a speech inviting the people to join him in a year to blow up Parliament. V adheres to his ideals of justice and freedom, but also uses his plot as a method of appeasing his vendetta.
V and Leadership:
V is a servant leader who employs questionable methods for the greater good. The ends justify the means because of his tragic and horrific past. He is not a leader because of “listening, empathy or healing” which are key criteria in the bullet point “Reflection” under the category of “servant leader.” However, he does fit the other key criteria of conceptualization and foresight under that category. His precise planning in executing his master plan, even a plan of terror and violence, is perfectly carried out for the good of his people. He embodies an idea, despite the fact that his violent means make him a jaded and miserable person himself.
His integrity is questionable at times, but overall, V is extremely honest. His own values may require violence, but it is only to deal with the drastic tyranny and oppression of the fascist government that made him into a monster in the first place. Drastic times call for drastic measures, but V doesn’t want to take control of the country and he works alone, operating as a solo act to ensure he does not spoil anyone else. He is a visionary with a personal vendetta, but his actions are motivated by his desire for justice and freedom in his country. The third bullet point under “servant leader” is the one that embodies V the most: “passion.” V has an unfailing dedication to his ideals, so much so that he almost sacrifices his own humanity in order to protect and enforce those ideals on a dictatorship that censors its people and dominates them with a history of horrible experimentations, concentration camps, disease and war.
According to Likert’s theory of management styles, V is a participative leader. He doesn’t order people around, he doesn’t consult anyone in constructing his brilliant plan to put the country back in the people’s hands, but he lays all of the groundwork and eventually leaves the final choice of what to do up to one of the common people. He accepts that he must die as part of that old group of people involved with the tragic concentration camps, recognizing that a new generation will be responsible for rebuilding the country. He accepts that he is not part of this generation and that he does not want to take on any role of leadership. He is compromised because of his values and gracefully bows out, leaving the choice of whether or not his plan will be carried out to Evey, one of the common people who will ultimately be instrumental in reshaping the future. Technically, V doesn’t abide by a few standards of the participative leader. He trusts the people will join him in his stand against the government, but he operates alone for the majority of the time. Not because he doesn’t trust the people, but the only violence he wishes to incite is his own. In other words, the blood will be on his hands and the people will get to start over with clean hands if he does not directly involve them until the very end. V recognizes that while the act of blowing up Parliament could be symbolic and ultimately change the world, he leaves the choice to the common people, represented by Evey. V sacrifices everything in the name of the truths he believes in. He believes in free speech, freedom, justice and democracy, as shown best by his speech to the people. Despite his mistakes, his horrible past and his acts of violence and rebellion, V’s actions are justified in the end as Parliament blows up, the deranged party members no longer exist and the people get a chance to start over. V represents more than just a man; he is an ideal. This is why he is a true servant leader: he was willing to sacrifice everything and ultimately die for the ideals he lived by.
Adam Sutler and Leadership:
Sutler is the ultimate example of an exploitative, authoritative leader according to Likert’s Theory of Management Styles. He trusts no one (and for good reason, as he is betrayed by his second-hand man who similarly trusts no one), he is the only decision-maker, his employees work out of fear for their lives and he is condescending and hands down his orders with sarcasm and mistrust.
The film shows frequent scenes of Sutler meeting with his party members as they attempt to censor the “terrorist” V, who is trying to rally the people and get them to realize who bad things have gotten in their country on their own watch. Sutler’s men arrest, torture and kill dissenters, they censor free speech and they want complete control over their citizens, a point made clear throughout the movie. From strictly enforcing a curfew on their citizens to putting famous works of music, art, religion and even items of food like butter on a blacklist, Sutler rules over his people an iron fist.
In the end we see how much of a coward Sutler is facing his death as opposed to V, who greets it with open arms. Although facing death does not necessarily make one a good leader, it’s obvious how weak of a leader Sutler really is when it comes to anything other than enforcing his harsh rule on citizens through others. Sutler is pure evil in the way he set a disease on his own people and killed 100,000 of them, all for the sake of gaining power.
Evey and Leadership:
Evey is not really a leader in the traditional sense for the majority of the movie. But by the end of the film, she is the most important leader of all: a leader of the future. Like V, she is jaded by her horrific past, as her parents were basically killed by the government and her brother was one of the victims poisoned by the disease the government unleashed on its own people. She is captured and tortured by V, who makes her think she is being held prisoner by the government, which happens because she admits she wishes she wasn’t afraid all the time. V does a horrible thing in tricking her and torturing her like that, but Evey is ultimately stronger for it and comes to realize in a memorable scene that V’s ideals are right.
However, Evey differs from V because she never employs serious violence to achieve the goal of overthrowing the government. V’s sacrifice of taking all that violence for himself spares her, which is why V gives the ultimate decision of whether or not to blow Parliament to her. Evey went through the same torture in a concentration camp that V did but she didn’t hold the same vendetta because V spared her from that. Because she is jaded but not tarnished, she joins the rest of her people as an instrumental piece in rebuilding for the future.
Evey employs all three aspects of a servant leader, even if she doesn’t really lead throughout the movie. She listens to V’s tragic tale with empathy and ultimately finds her own personal healing in a memorable scene (“God is in the rain.”). Where she truly leads is when she decides to send off the train that will blow up Parliament. She has the integrity to act on what V and the rest of the people want by sending the train off, allowing her people to start fresh, free from the reign of Sutler and his fascist policies. She has the passion that V instilled in her, which is why she sends the train off in the end. So although Evey follows V’s lead for the majority of the movie, she ultimately makes the biggest decision of the entire film as the perfect leader of the people based on V’s higher ideals.
Throughout this semester in the Humphrey Fellowship I have learned about leadership in multiple contexts. From leadership styles, to servant leadership, to inspiring leaders it has been crazy to see how many actual approaches to leadership there are. Everyone has a different definition of leadership. Everyone has a different style of leadership. Then there are people who doubt that they have what it takes to be a leader.
I felt like I fell somewhere into the spectrum of the followers. I am more shy than most people, I’m introverted, and I really don’t like to be the outspoken character in group interactions. From what I understood about leadership at the beginning of the semester I was not on the path to being a great leader.
But through working on our final leadership paper I found this quote from the Tao Te Ching (chapter 17):
The best leaders are those the people hardly know exist.
The next best is a leader who is loved and praised.
Next comes the one who is feared.
The worst one is the leader that is despised.
If you don’t trust the people,
they will become untrustworthy.
The best leaders value their words, and use them sparingly.
When she has accomplished her task,
the people say, “Amazing:
we did it, all by ourselves!”
This quote was really inspiring to me as an introvert. Here are the lessons i took from it:
- The best leaders are those who lead from the background – this means that a good leader isn’t in front trying to take all the credit, but is someone who is pushing their team into the spotlight and allowing them to be successful.
- The best leaders are those who trust their team – a good leader will have faith in his or her team to accomplish tasks. The leader shouldn’t have to micromanage and do everything for a team to have success.
- The best leaders use words effectively – quiet people can be leaders! It’s not the amount of things that one has to say, but it is more about how valuable those words are that matters.
I sent out several emails to some of my role models in the broadcast industry, particularly in the Phoenix market, for our leadership styles analysis paper. Some are still getting back to me, and a couple of days ago one of my biggest Valley role models responded.
I actually Facebooked Kristin Anderson, one of the anchors and reporters for KSAZ Fox 10 Arizona Morning. She has a heavy social media presence, both on Facebook and Twitter, and I knew I would be able to best reach her this way. When I interned at Fox 10 last spring, she was a friendly presence both in the newsroom and in the field, and I was lucky to shadow her in the field many times. She was a willing leader, and stepped into the role of mentor easily. Kristin had nothing but encouraging and positive words of advice, and thanks to social media I’ve been able to keep in touch with her as she continues to establish herself in Phoenix (she arrived to Arizona Morning in Fall 2010).
My questions for the journalism leaders I interviewed included:
-Who were some of your earliest role models in the industry and out of it?
-How do you define leadership in this industry?
-And what leadership roles have you taken on in the community and in the newsroom?
Kristin is a good example of both a journalism and community leader, and I think I look to her because I am able to relate to her in a variety of ways. Her response to my first question was similar to what mine would have been. She said her dad was her earliest role model, because growing up he made her feel like she could do anything she wanted to do and let her know that she was capable of it, as well. My dad provided this encouragement for me, as well, and as a journalism leader in his own right, showed me that it was possible to go as far as I wanted to when I set my mind to it. These thoughts, in my mind, mirror much of what our goal was in the Legacy Project. We set out to become role models in a way with this project, and I believe we have created something extraordinary that will set the tone for next year’s project, too.
When I asked Kristin about what it means to be a leader in journalism, she responded with the following: “…someone who sets a positive standard professionally and interpersonally. A leader is someone with fresh ideas and continually evolving, always getting better.” This made me think of our setting examples at various events, including the Farm Days event, where we set out to set a positive standard and create a good experience for the children we were volunteering for and with. I agree, too, that a leader is someone with “fresh ideas,” and this brought me back to our Films Presentations, where many groups presented their films in an original way. I particularly think of the School of Rock group, who were well organized and prepared to lead us through their film and its meaning to our particular context.
Lastly, Kristin said that she is fortunate enough to hold a number of leadership roles in the community, but that her favorite is being a mentor to women in the television industry. Having worked with her, I can safely say that she is passionate about her mentorship role, and I think a lot of what I learned about leadership in the newsroom came from working with Kristin and the other strong females in the Fox 10 Arizona Morning newsroom. Likewise, I think this is an important role we can all play in one way or another having taken this class. We learned a lot about leadership from each other and from our own experiences in the Legacy Project and our volunteer projects. These lessons are vital, in my opinion, to our sense of self and our leadership styles.
So I pose the above questions to all of you: what does a journalism leader look like, both in and outside of the newsroom? And what do you think was the most valuable leadership lesson you learned this semester?
It’s been a privilege working with all of you! Thank you for a fantastic semester!
Facebook interview with Kristin Anderson. 26 April 2012.
NFL safety Brian Dawkins retired on Monday. If you don’t follow sports you may never have heard the name. He wasn’t flashy. He was never the face of a franchise. He didn’t have the big endorsement deals. But he was as intense and passionate as any player that has ever played the game of football. What’s even more impressive about Dawkins was this headline that I found, written shortly after his retirement.
He will be remembered for LEADERSHIP.
In an ego driven league, where numbers literally define whether a player is a success or a failure, this is remarkable. It could have been easy to look at the 26 sacks, 37 forced fumbles, 37 interceptions, and 1131 tackles to summarize who Brian Dawkins was. But that’s not the focus of the article. Dawkins was a leader.
He exuded balance, an essential tool to leadership. As the article accurately describes…
“He led by example, but wasn’t afraid to speak up when necessary.”
I had the pleasure of getting to watch Dawkins play in the prime of his career, and I was amazed at the way his intensity fired up his teammates.
“even the people who saw him on television sometimes, while living in Yuma or Utah or Yukon, and saw the way he could simultaneously unite one team while dismembering the other” – Rich Hofmann, Philly.com columnist
I’m glad to see someone from the NFL being remembered for more than just big hits, touchdowns, and wins. Leadership is just as essential to being a success.
Marianne Allison, former executive vice president and chief innovation officer at Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, likened leadership in public relations to a daily testament to the serenity prayer.Her words and the serenity prayer concept, more than any other leadership style examined before, struck me as being the most appropriate manifestation of leadership – and truly the most accurate definition of what I want my personal style to be. In Allison’s mind, effective leaders have the vision and foresight to acknowledge those things that are or are not in the realm of their control, the fearlessness to approach what they can change and the ability to perceive the difference.
Wow. What a perfect concept to encapsulate my own personal thoughts on leadership! Since hearing Allison’s metaphor, I approach every day with a new sense of confidence and personal peace. Whenever life presents me with challenges that seem beyond my control, I ask myself for the strength and patience to get me through. I have learned to address those things that I can control, and to stop worrying so excessively about the things that I cannot.
Allison’s association is no different than Covey’s version of prioritization or Buckley’s systematic scheduling – it’s just a different lens for looking at a similar leadership framework. But for me, the serenity prayer is such a familiar thing that her metaphor resinates with me.
With the semester drawing to a close it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the endless projects, nearing deadlines and unforgiving due dates. So I thought I would take a moment to share some of the slideshows that the photography team has put together.
Farm Days: http://animoto.com/play/s8D4cFiUN9JUpUGkLOemmg
Orange Harvest: http://animoto.com/play/0Ulv8zjHKqp16KRZ0pTptQ
St. Mary’s Food Bank: http://animoto.com/play/0pw3IqnhYsvrZ5tWPLcCOQ
While these slideshows can be a nice break from reality , I think there is a valuable leadership lesson here. All leaders must take time for themselves – sometimes that “time” is in the form of yoga or reading, and sometimes it is in the form of personal reflection. Looking at pictures from the past reminds us of the good times and bad. It recalls moments we wish to return to and those we want to escape from. Pictures can even evoke a sense of deep emotion that is often absent from leadership.
By studying our past we can look toward our future. We can evaluate distant decisions and feelings, and examine our choices with a critical eye. This type of reflection can ultimately help shape our personal leadership style. And even if you don’t want to “dwell” on the past or ponder about the future, looking at pictures can certainly provide a temporary respite from the present!
As we approach the end of our leadership seminar and get ready to share with the class what our personal leadership styles are, it’s important to reflect on what makes us, as young people, leaders. What gives us the right to be leaders in a world where leadership means power?
Our class has experienced what it’s like to be a servant leader in the community, reflected on what leadership styles we’ve observed in our employers, and discussed how we have acted in leadership positions in our lives. Now, as some of us prepare to graduate and some of us continue into our last year of college, we must recognize the places and situations we can step up and use our leadership skills. We have the ability to lead and use our leadership skills even if we aren’t the president of an organization or in a managerial position.
As I was browsing the Internet looking for young leaders, I came across several organizations that rely on the leadership of young people all over the world. UNICEF is an organization that advocates for children and promotes young leaders internationally to help aid in advocating for children’s rights.
“Young people make up more than half the world’s population. They are speaking out and taking active leadership roles throughout society to ensure children play a central role in building a world truly fit for children” (Unicef – Young Leaders)
If children are making a difference and standing up for their rights, how can we also stand up for what we believe in and make a difference in the world?
I believe it’s as simple as Kelly Curtis, author of Empowering Youth, says. “The way we guide young people today will ultimately determine the world’s fate – and our own. But valuing the contributions of youth to our society – viewing youth as worthy of adult respect – is a relatively new concept” (Curtis 12).
We are a in a time of our lives where we aren’t completely taken seriously and we are competing to find jobs among veterans in our field. Preparing ourselves to be rookies is a daunting task. However, if we apply the leadership skills we’ve learned in this class and stay true to our personal leadership styles, then we can succeed and inspire. We may even be able to teach older generations a thing or two.
I challenge everyone to use their leadership skills to inspire and make a difference in their lives. You don’t have to change the world single-handedly, but we’ve learned valuable lessons in this class. It’s time to stop taking the back seat and step up to make a real difference. How will you use your leadership skills?
As we near the end of the semester and the end of our Legacy Project journey, I want share with you some thoughts on motivation and motivational leadership. So much of the last leg of any semester, but especially this one for our graduating seniors (and my capstone/last semester-bound self), is about staying motivated and finishing strong. Once spring break hits, all bets are off, and it’s all about finding what will keep you moving.
The American Management Association has a great article about motivational leadership. Their article states that, “One key characteristic of leaders is that they set high standards of accountability for themselves and for their behaviors.” I think this is especially key in our Legacy Project and has been so far, as the different leaders of each branch of the project work to stay motivated themselves and thus to set a high standard of work and timeliness for the rest of the group. However, no matter how good an example a leader tries to set, there will inevitably be setbacks in any project or situation. The key at this point is how you deal with them.
Motivational leading has at its core five key principles:
1. Vision: According to the article, this is the key principle separating motivational leaders from followers. They say that the best motivation you can have for yourself and your team members is “Be your best!” We cannot simply accept what is better than others, or try to create a website that was “better” than the last one. Rather, we must strive to be the best in our respective groups and to create the best product available.
2. Integrity: The American Management Association describes this as “complete, unflinching honesty,” and ties this back into doing your best. This means when someone asks at the end of the day or the end of the project, “Did you try your hardest?” you will honestly be able to answer them yes or no, without being ashamed of either answer. Truth and communication are key in this principle.
3. Courage: I think it’s safe to say a lot of the effort in the last leg of a semester and in the last stretch of the Legacy Project is the courage to forge onward, despite setbacks or frustrations. This means resisting the urge to “get going by going along,” and adhering to your principles to maintain your integrity. So many of these principles are intertwined, but I personally think courage is at the heart of each of them.
4. Realism: The American Management Association says realism is “a form of intellectual honesty.” This has also been a key factor in the Legacy Project and I know as I organize my final days of the semester, for me as well. You have to be realistic about what you can get done in the amount of time you have, and sometimes this involves sacrificing time in one arena in favor of getting something done in another.
5. Responsibility: They say this is the hardest principle to “obey,” and I am inclined to agree. This involves taking full responsibility for your actions, including what you got done and what you were not able to get done. Sometimes, for me, responsibility is all that motivates me at the end of a semester!
The combination of all these principles allows us to remember what is most important. It is not just a matter of getting it all done, but getting it done with your best effort and being able to say, at the end of the day, that you gave it your full and most honest, courageous effort.
I pose the following questions to everyone: what keeps you motivated in the last stretch of a project or a semester? Is it the end goal? Or is it just the desire to get it done?
We’re in our final week of class, and our legacy project is incredibly close to being finished. The website is awaiting the last couple of elements before it is ready to go, and everyone is hard at work making it come together during these last few days of the semester. The project has been a lot of work, but it’s also been a treasure trove of lessons for me. I’ve learned a lot, in particular, about teamwork. Here are a few of the lessons the legacy project has taught me.
- Some people are leaders; others are followers. And that’s OK. In fact, for a team to work well, it’s not possible for everyone to be a leader. Some people, the leaders, work best by delegating tasks — these are the big-picture people who have a vision and know how best to organize everyone in a way that makes sense. Other people, the followers, work best by being asked to do things. These people are no less important to the success of the project than those who are telling them what their tasks are. They are the ones who provide the pieces of the puzzle to make the end result come together.
- Sometimes, people have to cover for others. If someone is unable to pull his or her weight, for any reason, other members of the team have to jump in and fill that gap, or else the project will fall apart. There are a few people whom I’ve seen take on a huge share of work on this project — and the reason they do it is because they believe in the project’s success. Teamwork doesn’t necessarily mean sharing the load evenly; sometimes it means being willing to pick up where others leave off.
- Everyone has something to bring to the table. Our group is incredibly diverse. We have reporters, designers, photographers, videographers, producers, PR experts and more. We’re a tiny newsroom in our own right. And that, ultimately, is why I believe this project will be a success. We have all our bases covered, from a multimedia standpoint, and I believe the diversity in our group will be reflected in the completeness of our website.
I’ve loved working with all of you this semester, on this project and on others we’ve done. This class has been one of the most unique experiences I’ve had at the Cronkite School, and I just want to say thank you, all of you, for making it so enjoyable.
I’m working on my leadership paper for the second week now, and I’ve been writing about female journalists whose leadership styles inspire me. Last week, I talked about Nellie Bly; this week, I want to focus on the incredible leadership qualities of Katharine Graham.
Known by many as Katharine the Great, Graham did not aspire to a leadership role but rather was thrust into one. In 1963, her husband, Philip, committed suicide. Philip had been the publisher of the Washington Post, and soon after his death, Katharine Graham succeeded him.
During her tenure, which lasted until 1991, Graham made what were potentially some of the toughest decisions a publisher has ever had to make – and her decisions led to two of the greatest moments in American journalism. One was her approval of the Post’s publication in 1971 of the Pentagon Papers, which ended in a victory for journalism even though it put the company’s stock in jeopardy. The other was her decision to break the Watergate story in 1972 – she pressed forward despite threats from the White House, and the uncovered scandal toppled Richard Nixon’s presidency two years later.
Graham was a humble yet firm leader. Her dedication to journalistic standards led her to make risky decisions – and it made the Post into a renowned and respected newspaper. Graham used her power wisely. In a 1973 interview with W, she said, “I don’t flinch at (power) the way I used to. If power is there to be used, it is used whether you abdicate it or whether you use it. You have to remember that you can do as much damage by abdicating it as by using it in the wisest way you know.”
One leadership quality I have often struggled with is understanding the balance between humility and firmness. Too often, I fail to speak up about things that bother me. I have let things slide for fear of offending someone. But leadership as a journalist isn’t about letting things slide; it’s about taking risks when you know you’re doing the right thing for the publication in the long run. Katharine Graham understood this, and it was what made the Post so successful under her leadership. Her calm strength inspires me to lead with a firmer hand while maintaining compassion and understanding toward others.
“Katharine Graham.” Washington Post 21 Jul 2001, 74. Print.
Onacre, Allison, and Robert Haskell. “Katharine the Great.” WWD. 18 Jul 2001. Print.
As I work on my leadership paper for class, I’ve been thinking about one of the ways I learn best, which is through watching others. I look at the lives of people I look up to, I watch how they handle certain situations, and I do my best to emulate the traits that I admire. There are a handful of female journalists, both in history and in the present day, whom I consider role models. All of them have a direct influence on my personal leadership journey.
One of these women is Nellie Bly, a pioneer in the world of journalism. Born in 1864 as Elizabeth Jane Cochran, the ambitious Bly set goals for herself and moved up quickly in the industry. At age 20, she submitted an anonymous letter to the editor of the Pittsburgh Dispatch; the editor liked her writing style so much that he hired her on as a reporter.
Bly poured her effort into her work, tackling social issues such as women in the workforce and dangerous conditions in factories. When her editors tried to pigeonhole her by assigning her to more-typical “female” stories such as gardening and fashion, she quit her job.
Soon after, she was hired at Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World, where went undercover as a “patient” in an insane asylum to expose the harsh conditions there. At age 24, she made a trip around the world – by herself – in 72 days to beat the record of the main character in Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days.
Nellie Bly’s daring, adventurous attitude and her unwillingness to follow the status quo are an inspiration to me as a growing leader. Warren Bennis, in his book On Becoming a Leader, says that to be a leader, you must separate “who you are and what you want to be from what the world thinks you are and wants you to be.” As I grow as a leader, I’m learning that sometimes it’s best to break the status quo – the key is knowing how and when to do so. As a young female journalist, I never want my age or gender to be the reason that I’m held back from doing what I love. If I’m ever in a situation where that’s the case, I plan to do what Nellie Bly did: move on and blaze my own trail.
Kroeger, Brooke. Nellie Bly: Daredevil, Reporter, Feminist. New York: Random House. 1994.
Mackin, Mike. “Nellie Bly.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [Pennsylvania] 06 Mar 2008, F-7. Print.
“Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.” – Abraham Lincoln
Lincoln on Leadership: Executive Strategies for Tough Times is a wonderful illustration of President Abraham Lincoln’s leadership strengths during his presidency and the Civil War written by Donald T. Phillips. Lincoln had true American spirit and used his skills to unite our country during its toughest time. While most Americans think of Lincoln and only bring to mind his nickname “Honest Abe,” I have been able to improve my leadership style and gain valuable leadership lessons from learning about his life.
The lessons listed below outline Lincoln’s identity and the characteristics that have given him the title of one of the best leaders in American History.
- Get out of the office and circulate among the troops
- Build strong alliances
- Persuade rather than coerce
- Honesty and integrity are the best policies
- Never act out of vengeance or spite
- Have the courage to handle unjust criticism
- Be a master of paradox
- Exercise a strong hand – Be decisive
- Lead by being led
- Set goals and be results-oriented
- Keep searching until you find your “Grant”
- Encourage innovation
- Master the art of public speaking
- Influence people through conversationand storytelling
- Preach a vision and continually reaffirm it
The leadership book I read for this class was On Becoming a Leader by Warren Bennis. A friend recommended it to me, and my honest first impression of the book was that it was going to be another cliched, dry 12-step program on how to “be a better leader.” But as I read it, I was more and more pleasantly surprised at the things I was learning.
Bennis writes with a refreshing simplicity. His book isn’t a 12-step program but rather a 10-part guide that emphasizes qualities of a leader. It’s not meant as a magical self-help program that will instantly turn you into a leader after you finish reading it; Bennis himself even says, “Leadership courses can only teach skills. They can’t teach character or vision — and indeed, they don’t even try. Developing character and vision is the way leaders invent themselves.”
There were a lot of take-aways from this book — even nuanced ones within the 10 sections. If I were to go through all of them, this post would be ridiculously long, so instead I want to focus on the two that stood out to me the most: master the context and know yourself.
Mastering the context is about understanding your place in the world. You have to understand the state of the world around you in order to enact change within the world and within yourself. You have to know what kind of leader the world is lacking to know what kind of leader you must be. And you must be willing to take risks instead of going along with a broken system, or you will never be able to help fix it.
The biggest point Bennis stresses about mastering the context is the difference between a manager and a leader. “[T]oo many CEOs become bosses, not leaders,” he says, “and it is the bosses who have gotten America into its current fix.”
Here are some of the key differences:
- A manager administers while a leader innovates.
- A manager is a copy while a leader is original.
- A manager relies on control while a leader inspires trust.
- A manager focuses on systems and structure while a leader focuses on people.
This got me thinking about my own leadership style. When I’m put in charge of people, do I work with them or do I try to control them? I’m guilty of being a “manager” a lot of the time, and this book inspired me to do better at focusing on leading others rather than being a boss over them.
The second point that hit me hard was Bennis’ views on knowing yourself. There are four lessons he offers to knowing yourself:
- You are your own best teacher.
- Accept responsibility. Blame no one.
- You can learn anything you want to.
- True understanding comes from reflecting on your experience.
Even though building relationships is an important factor of leadership, you alone are responsible for your own self-direction, Bennis says. No man is an island, and a good leader knows the difference between self-knowledge and total self-reliance. Trust yourself above all else, but never shut others out. Bennis sums it up well by saying: “Leaders learn from others, but they are not made by others.”
There are two ends of the spectrum: Some people are totally self-reliant and isolate themselves, and others are wholly reliant on others and can’t function on their own. There needs to be a balance, Bennis says. This is another key thing that’s easy for me to understand but hard for me to remember. I tend to be on the self-reliant end of the spectrum — I’m not great at taking others’ advice because I think I’ve got it all figured out. But any decisions I make on my own — especially in a leadership role — will affect others, and I need to be mindful that my place in the world isn’t limited to just me. As a leader, I need to be in tune with the people I’m leading, and I need to learn from them while still maintaining my role as a leader and being responsible for my choices.
Overall, I thought On Becoming a Leader was a great book. For anyone who wants a fairly easy read with a lot of good lessons and memorable quotes, I would highly recommend it.
There are so many important and meaningful leadership lessons in Seth Godin’s Tribes that it is impossible to grasp the book’s full significance in just one read. Godin’s tactful command of the English language and deliberate use of metaphor transforms complex leadership theories into rudimentary ideas that serve to inspire and encourage the average reader to find his or her leader within. His artistry is poignant and can change your leadership paradigms, but only if you choose to let it.
After listening to the book presentations in today’s class, something really struck me about about each of the lessons, especially Julia’s: We are all part of a leadership seminar, but by design that does not make us leaders. We learn about leadership theories, traits and characteristics, but none of it has any implication unless we apply it to our every day lives. So I leave you with this: Actively commit to reading Godin’s book (or any leadership book of your own) daily. Don’t try and read it cover to cover, but pull out one key element each day and search for ways to apply it to your life.
Here is what I will focus on this week:
1) Proactive Behavior
“The largest enemy of change and leadership isn’t a no. It’s a not yet. Not yet is the safest, easiest way to forestall change. Not yet gives the status quo a change to regroup and put off the inevitable for just a while longer. Change almost never fails because it’s too early. It almost always fails because it’s too late.”
I always find myself putting things off until tomorrow – not because I am afraid of change, but because I deem other priorities more important. This week I will work to change that.
2) Eliminate “Fear” From My Vocabulary
“Fear is what holds us back. Leadership isn’t difficult but we have been trained to avoid it.”
Realizing that fear is what holds us back is a powerful thing. Once we know (and accept) what our demons are then we can work on overcoming them.
What leadership lessons will you work on this week?
Given that March is Women’s History Month, and based on recent blog posts on various leadership blogs, I thought it might be interesting this week to reflect upon the female leaders in our lives. One blog in particular, Lip-Sticking, focuses on women’s issues and women’s roles in society, particularly as leaders and businesswomen. I enjoy it because it often makes me reflect upon how I can be a strong, female leader in my generation and an example for younger generations, especially if I am fortunate enough to one day have a daughter.
One question I have for all of you this week is: what woman in your life do you perceive to be a leader? Do they lead out loud, or in a more silent, powerful manner? I fondly recall one of my high school English professors, a woman named Dr. Conway, who lead in a silent but very powerful way. She was quite the feminist and ever the intellectual, and really spurred my passion for literature into action. She left my sophomore English class with many words of wisdom, including the insight to never feel limited by the roles people saw for us. If men or even other women perceived us a certain way, she dared us to break that mold and show that we were more than what they thought. I always appreciate that one of the ways she saw for us to do this was education, and that she lead by example with a Ph.D in English Literature!
Speaking of perceptions, there was an interesting article posted on Lip-Sticking on March 2 entitled “Copping Out of Opting Out.” It addresses the idea that many women choose to “opt out” of the workplace still in favor of raising children and focusing on family, or taking on other ventures, and that other women often opt out of the professional areas they have come to dominate. This latter category includes women such as Martha Stewart and Oprah Winfrey, both of whom recently chose to break out of their comfortable roles in daytime TV, in which they were prominent leaders, to try something new. The author of the article, Yvonne DiVita, goes against what many critics are saying about them now and asserts that just because “their new endeavors are not yet wildly successful, is not to say they don’t still deserve our admiration.”
These women and other powerhouses like them are enduring struggles just as they first did when they entered their original professions. Just because they chose to break out of the roles in which we are comfortable seeing them does not mean we should write them off as failures. Rather, we (men and women alike) should all be so brave to break outside of the mold and past our comfort zone to become leaders in a new field. Even if we fail, we can still lead by example and pick ourselves up again, learning from our mistakes and becoming better people and leaders for it.
So I pose the following questions to the class this week: what women leaders make or made a difference in your life? What kind of leaders are/were they? And what role, if any, do you think you need to or want to break out of in your personal/professional lives? I still sometimes find myself arguing with my mother and grandmother about the concept of “having it all”–a family and a successful professional life, and I’m working to find a balance of both.
Image courtesy www.oprah.com