25 November 2014 0 Comments

Leadership Part 17

11-25-14 LII Blog FBThe final element of Focus in a leader is Passion and Dedication


Most of the great leaders of history are passionate about their quest.  But passion is not necessarily present in every leader in every undertaking.  Dedication is absolutely essential if a leader is to succeed.  But Passion and dedication are not always synonymous.

Colin Powell is a proven leader.  His military life presents the picture of an individual who worked his way to the very top, admired by friends and foes.  He looks like a leader.  He acts like a leader.   He is well informed and intelligent.  He is a great public speaker.  He shows a passion for his cause—usually.

I once had the honor of having breakfast with him at an insurance industry function and then listening to him as he captured the attention and respect of the entire room.  This was prior to the first George W. Bush nomination.  He gave no inkling of any particular political leanings.  But most of us in the audience that morning—especially those of us who were able to speak to him one-on-one prior to his presentation—came away believing that if he chose to run for president, he could win no matter what ticket he selected.

He didn’t run.  He did become Secretary of State in the Republican administration that followed.  I felt good about his representing the United States abroad.  He spoke his mind and he appeared to be a military man who opted for negotiations over weapons.

Then 9-11 hit and soon after Colin Powell was sent to the United Nations to sell the world on the fact that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD).  Powell was passionate about the need to act because he believed in what he was presenting. The administration was aware that he was the best they had to assure acceptance of their determination to attack.   Before the UN and the world, Colin Powell showed passion for his goal…passion for the truth that he was delivering.  He was a leader.

But it wasn’t long after that UN delivery that he lost his passion when no WMD’s were found.  Then he was running only on dedication.  It’s what he had been taught in the military, but the zest was gone.  He found himself in a situation in which he could no longer totally believe.  He doubted the authenticity of the information which he had delivered.  Being a good leader, his dedication to his superiors and to concluding the job to which he had committed, carried him to the end of the first Bush term.  But, then it was over.  Here was a leader for whom only dedication would no longer suffice.

Leaders must be dedicated.  Great leaders must also be passionate.

Focus is a trait that all leaders possess.  They see what it is that they want to deliver.  They know what must be done to achieve that deliverance.   They maintain a commitment to the goal that is essential for success.

The final entry on this series on Leadership is next—The Price of Leadership.

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