[July 24, 2019] Over the past few weeks, I had the opportunity to speak with several young men who are combat veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I was impressed with their energy and positive outlook on life. What I came away was the thought of how brave, honest, and generous these men showed to me and other community leaders.
These conversations and my recent week camping out with Boy Scout got me to thinking about personal traits that are most valued. I regularly write about bravery and honesty and why these characteristics are so desirable. Less so, I also have written about generosity (one good article link here).
“In a time of domestic crisis, men of goodwill and generosity should be able to unite regardless of party or politics.” – John F. Kennedy, 35th president of the United States
Friday night, I was listening on my car radio to a Q&A by a psychologist from one of those elite colleges in the Northeast U.S., when he said something that stuck in my mind. Sorry, but I don’t remember the psychologist’s name (I was in my car driving home around midnight). He said that men and leaders are most valued for being brave, honest, and generous. Click! Masculinity and leadership mean being brave, honest, and generous and are not a bunch of mean, brutish, sex offenders; as some would have us believe.
Each of these three traits is included in the U.S. Army’s values1, the Boy Scout Law2, and extensively throughout the Bible and as well as current and past philosophical texts. A university professor friend of mine, who I spoke to about this idea, said he thinks these traits are valued because they are pragmatic and the historical literature, as he reads it, supports such an argument.
Women can also be brave, honest, and generous. It seems to me, however, that these traits are closely associated with being a leader while being nurturing, sensitive, and tolerant is seen as more feminine. And, these psychological characteristics are stronger than we might realize.3
Leadership can be learned just as easily by anyone who has the motivation to do so. That is why I have this leadership blog; to teach, entertain, and draw attention to the basic elements of leadership.