[October 28, 2016] One of my themes1 here at theLeaderMaker.com has been that anyone can learn a great deal about leadership through the study of the successes and failures of other leaders. This is best done by doing our darndest to learn about what leaders think and thus how they carry out their responsibilities; for good or for bad.
Since it is next to impossible to understand their true thinking by observing their decision-making and their actions, one good way is to read what they’ve written and study what they’ve said whenever possible. Over the past century that’s much easier to do since the mass production of books and the current expansion of mass media tools and the Internet.
For example, if those in senior leadership positions had read what Adolf Hitler had written in Mein Kampf (see my comments on this 1925 publication here) and actually done something to stop him earlier while he was still building the strength of Germany, perhaps the World War II and the Holocaust would not have happened. But they ignored what he had written.
Learning to study and understand the thinking of others is a difficult task even when we have access to the written word and recordings of other leaders. What it is incumbent upon us, as responsible leaders, to do is to practice thinking differently and this requires good observation, studious persistence, intellectual tolerance, and some help from others who are doing the same. To read and hear what others have to say in their analysis of a leader of interest will help us understand better by building an intellectual framework.
Consider that leaders are made, not born … and they are made through personal development. Although it’s never too late to begin this practice of learning what leaders think, the earlier in one’s leadership role the better. You can teach an old dog new tricks but better to start when they’re a pup. This means leaders should consciously expose themselves early to new ideas and many ways of thinking to build their personal capacity and resilience throughout their lifetimes.
Reading is the first step and that’s why I use my Reading List which is filled with books that target what leaders are thinking. While some of the more controversial readings may be upsetting to the faint-of-heart, it nevertheless allows us into a diversity of intellectual thought. Remember that Galileo Galilei was persecuted for making a number of astrological observations; one of which was that the Earth revolved around the Sun.
Let’s not make the same mistake.
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- See number 4 at My Blog Themes: Top 10 – https://www.theleadermaker.com/blog-themes-top-10/