[April 9, 2018] A legendary story about gentlemanly behavior comes from Elizabethan times when Sir Walter Raleigh laid down his cloak before the Queen so she would not get her feet wet.1 But times are changing and there are some folks who now ask whether gentlemen are a dying breed. Nevertheless, for a leader, the answer is to always the same … be a gentleman.
“Courtesy is as much a mark of a gentleman as courage. – Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the U.S.
During a recent commissioning ceremony for U.S. Army Infantry Second Lieutenants, an Army Commander said in his speech that he expected these newly minted officers to always be gentlemanly in how they treat others as well as courageous on the battlefield. He implied that was there may be some similarities between leaders and gentlemen.
In days long ago, new military officers were commissioned as officers and gentlemen. This began in the British military and spread throughout most Western nations that favored small, volunteer armies. It was expected that those officers act in gentlemanly ways: polite, punctual, modest, honest, selfless, respectful, and dressed tidily. One was not required to come from royal breeding to be an officer yet the status of an officer was high.
Good advice for leaders: Gentlemen are a dying breed. Be one and you’ll stand out.
Writing from experience, a man who is a gentleman will discover that life goes their way more often than not. He is appreciated if he conducts himself properly and highly respected as well. Here are five ways to be a gentleman:
- Pay attention to others. Remember people’s names, important events in their lives, and those things in which they have interests. Recognize these and you will be thanked.
- Listen to others. Don’t talk about yourself, curse, or be vulgar in any setting; public or private. Instead, focus on others.
- Help others around you. Hold the door for others (both men and women), provide positive feedback, and be unpretentious in all you do.
- Avoid controversial topics. This is about knowing your audience and sensitive to their needs and interests. What gentlemen do is not provoke others unnecessarily.
- Treat others with respect. Say hello, avoid disrupting or insulting behavior, and have good manners.
- In reality, it appears that Sir Walter Raleigh never did lay down his cloak: https://www.trivia-library.com/b/sir-walter-raleigh-never-laid-his-cloak-before-queen-elizabeth.htm