Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Legendary Leadership: Striking the Spark

Arthur could find the golden beam of hope in defeat, the single glimmer of blue in the storm-fretted sky. It was this that made him such a winning leader—the kind of man for whom other men gladly lay down their lives.  Arthur’s enthusiasm and assurance were the flint and steel to the dry tender of men’s hearts. Once he learned to strike the spark, he could set the flame any time he chose. 
- Arthur, Stephen R Lawhead

Legendary leaders have hope when all others despair. Where the average person sees a closed door, leaders see possibilities. When plans go awry and the masses of men give way to confusion, leaders see a Better Way Forward. When darkness falls on the minds of others and the vision sinks into impenetrable darkness, leaders see the vision as clear as the day it was revealed to them.

For such leaders, this is not a case of failing to deal with reality. The door is closed, the plan is not working, and darkness has descended. (Leaders know the difference between the plan and the vision: The plan is flexible, the vision is primary.) This the leader readily acknowledges. He simply sees more than the troops. Remember: when all others are blind, the guy who sees either is or becomes a leader.

Leaders are realists, for they too have experienced confusion and hardship. As Lawhead’s Merlin notes regarding Arthur’s early years, “For even then he was beginning to display that rarest of qualities: a joy inspired by hardship, deepened by adversity, and exalted by tragedy.” Leaders suffer, as do we all. What sets them apart is what they do with their sufferings.  They do not give up or in; they do not become victims of circumstances. They endure and keep moving forward toward the vision, with joy and hope.

Certainly there are those within the ranks who do the same. A true leader, however, can “strike the spark” so as to rally the troops in times of hardship. It’s admirable to maintain my poise and post in times of adversity but if I can’t inspire my followers to hold steady in times of adversity, then I am not a leader. There is no shame here: it’s only a case of dealing with my reality.

Closed doors, failed plans, and confusion among the troops, are all part of following after the vision, maintaining the Quest. Yet, for a leader, nothing ever clouds the vision of the intended outcome or thwarts their ability to open’s men’s eyes to see “the single glimmer of blue in the storm-fretted sky.”

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2018

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