[September 16, 2019] Looking at mythological heroes and the stories about those heroes, we find that a common trait; they are physically strong. They slay the dragon that’s been terrorizing villages, kill the shark that was eating tourists at the local resort, and save the city from Godzilla. It’s an old story of humankind dating back into the antiquities of the origins of our species. It should come as no surprise that strong leadership is an outgrowth of the hero myth.
There are several elements of a strong leader. It is no longer all about the power of the muscles; the expert ability to wield a battle axe, to run faster than all others, to shot an arrow a long way to hit a target, or to overpower the enemy when surprised in an ambush. Strength is, nevertheless, highly valued. But strength without the interplay between good and evil is missing something.
In the basic idea of leadership, we cannot always equate what’s good to what’s strong. Strength is one element of it. Better to be strong than to be weak. Strong and kind is better than strong. Strong, kind, and wise is better than strong and kind. Fostering social relations and respecting the value of others, regardless of status or position, paying attention to and protecting the weak, and treating them well and wisely, is a far greater way of leading than simply being the strongest person in the room.
Being physically strong may be good for one battle or two, but for 100 battles it is inadequate because the rules of the social battlefield requires much more. The model of a strong leader is therefore complex and as societies develop and grow, complicating factors also grow in number. Leaders who now display wisdom, vision, creativity, honor, and adhere to and respect traditions are those who have also increased their likelihood of success.
On the battlefield, the best leaders (and heroes) are those who have shown great insight into what is key to the battle. In Clausewitzian terms, it is the center of gravity; the source of power that provides the moral or physical strength, the freedom of action, or the will to act. The good leader or good hero is the one who grasps that point and uses his abilities to overcome it. In the mythological stories of the dragon slayer, it is a kink in the armor on the belly of the beast where the spear must penetrate to kill the immortal dragon.
In these pages at www.theleadermaker.com, I have gone to great lengths to spell out those traits, skills, and abilities a good leader must possess. Surely it is difficult and complex. I will admit that to be the case. It is necessary, however, to understand that a leader is not simply strong but multi-dimensional, and that is the secret of great leadership too.