[December 28, 2018] No one wants to get into ugly controversies. I know of no one who does. But leadership means being at the tip of the spear and consciously deciding to make difficult choices; even when the popular mood advises against it.
“We take and must continue to take morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.” – Reinhold Niebuhr, American theologian, ethicist, and professor
Only strong, resilient leaders can be at the tip of the spear; trailblazing, making hard decisions, and surviving to fight another time. This is real leadership. Taking on difficult problems, carefully studying them, and making informed decisions is what leadership is all about. Anyone can make an easy decision. It takes strength, agility, resilience, and assertiveness to be on the frontlines of any organization to make hard choices that work.
Only those with the relevant experiences and toughness of mind can get out ahead of a problem with a workable solution. Leaders who make tough decisions, do so promptly; not waiting for a moment that may never come. Only they will be the ones people look to in times of crisis and difficulty.
If leaders chose not to act, they will fail. By going where no one has gone before puts a leader where their inherent responsibility rests. Fear, moral or physical fear, holds back too many leaders from doing their due diligence. When others are cowering in the background, anyone with the courage who steps forward is a leader. These are the people we will always respect and admire.
Like the Infantry leader who says “follow me” to attack the enemy in the face of grave danger, so too do true leaders who are willing to put themselves at risk. Being at the tip of the spear is dangerous, fraught with unknowns (known and unknown), laden with suspense and intrigue, and can never be disguised as simple or easy.
I’ve been fortunate to personally know senior leaders who were there when great leadership was necessary. History is full of the stories of these men and women – some I’ve captured in this blog – who were there when their nation needed them. They are saluted for their courage and strength. And, they are admired for their spirit.