Defining leadership

March 6, 2009

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Eighteen years ago, after the conclusion of the Persian War (Desert Storm), General Norman Schwarzkopf was interviewed by Barbara Walters of ABC News. It was at the end of a long day and I was sitting in my comfortable easy chair when Barbara Walters asked the general a question that grabbed my attention. His response to that question made me jump out of my chair, run and grab a pen and paper and write down his words to the best of my ability. 

 


Leadership is a quality that all of us tend to admire, yet most of us would be very hard pressed to define it in simple terms and in only a few words. As some of you will remember, General Schwarzkopf was praised as an exceptional leader and as one who had the uncanny ability to take complex issues and break them down in to simple terms. With this backdrop Barbara Walters asked the general an exceptional question: "What is leadership?" 

 


His response to her question clearly confirmed his brilliant, yet simple, leadership style. His words, to the best of my ability to quote him exactly, were, "Leadership is seeing what needs to be done, and the ability to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done." 

 


These words had a ring of brilliance and clarity, and yet, could leadership be defined in such simple workman''s terms?  

 


When we look at our national challenges and the economic crisis that seems to deepen by the weeks and months, one has to wonder if there is anyone up there (in Washington) that has the vision to see what needs to be done, and the ability to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done.  

 


We''ve got a president who is doing things and spending money in a mind-blurring manner. Does this represent wise leadership? After all, wise leadership is rooted in wisdom. It appears that we have come to a time in our history where wisdom is perceived as antiquated and old-fashioned concept. 

 


We have come to a crossroad in the history of our nation. The America our parents and grandparents grew up in now stands at the crossroads of "change." The lack of wise leadership in our beloved country has created a great vacuum. Into this vacuum has come the current administration of "change." We shall see if this administration leads our nation down wise paths, or will our country be turned further to folly? 

 


Stephen Schrock 

 


Prairie