Western Leadership Part 2: Iconic Leadership

Iconic Leadership

I would like to share my concept of leadership in the expanding phase of my Five Phases model. The expanding phase in the cycle is where leadership is the most dynamic and creative. Consequently, its lessons are the most valuable.

Commanders in Chief of the Army, as well as the former Presidents Washington and Grant, personify this concept. They are, sadly, a sharp contrast to our current Western world leaders who are presiding over decline. These present leaders exist within the context of weak leadership models and expectations. The danger is that we, the electorate, have neglected the standards by which we should elect our leaders.

This is why I have drawn on the lessons of great past leaders to define my concept of leadership, to help us reset our expectations of who should and should not lead our nations, institutions and companies.

Firstly, leadership is a service. Understanding this is key to safely resolving the crisis of the Western world. Our democratic forefathers the Greeks recognised two expressions of power which we might naively call "good power" and "bad power". They believed power in itself is not good or bad, yet its expression determines whether it is harmful or beneficial. In ancient Greece, a man might use one kind of power (Despos) towards slaves, but a different power (Kyros) towards his wife and children. In that patriarchal system, men held power in the culture. Vocabulary itself helped men understand the appropriate expression of their authority over others. Kyros indicates a legitimate moral authority where the wielder takes into consideration the good of those over whom it is exercised. Such restricted power is not abused for self-interest. If we combine the concept of Kyros with the perspective that leadership should be viewed as service to those that are being led, we have a value system that should define the most basic requirements of leadership by which all should be measured.

Secondly, sound judgement. A key role of leadership is possessing the vision to enhance collective wellbeing. Naturally, good judgement is necessary. Without it, detrimental decisions will be made. 

Empathy is crucial. Often a vision may not initially be shared by the group or nation. Resultantly it must be shared in such a way whereby the group or nation is collectively empowered to achieve the vision.

Courage is essential. Even when the path seems clear, a visionary leader may face opposition in their actions until the outcome is successful. The role of a leader can at times be lonely. During these periods courage, determination, strength and a sense of purpose are all requirements of good leadership.

Lastly, supportive council.  No man or woman is an island. Indeed, the true wisdom of a great leader is manifest in those they choose to surround themselves with. Wisdom and insight are prerequisites for good council. However, when a leader does discover a destructive force close by it must be ruthlessly removed. Sometimes these negative individuals are camouflaged by apparently irreplaceable skills and good intentions until revealed otherwise.

Bold action and change will only unfold when we, the West, have been able to manifest iconic leaders who serve the people they lead. This applies specifically to Britain and the USA. Only then will we be able to respond effectively to the acute challenges that surround us and have the chance to avert disaster in the coming decade.

Next Part 3; Heroes and Cycles

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