Independent in All Things, Neutral in Nothing


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Today, the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, offers the opportunity to reflect on leadership and how leaders can affect history, people and events. One important realization: leadership is primarily a moral undertaking. Skills, personality, and technique recede as distant considerations when we consider truly momentous examples of leadership.

Many people often forget that fact, or ignore it. They do so at their own peril. Even in business, that famously amoral creation, leadership finds its grounding and strength in morality, integrity and fair-dealing. This blog will continually argue this truth, and will remind readers again and again in future posts.

One of the best histories of Cold War leadership is Joseph Shattan’s Architects of Victory. In it, he makes a convincing argument that the Cold War ended, in victory for the West, precisely because of a few men took moral, courageous stands – in deeds and in words.  

As we consider this important anniversary, let us take heart from this example. While our moment may not have historical consequences, demonstrating courage will likely be no easier than these men and women found it. And, we should know that sometimes we will need courage and will suffer unpopularity – or worse – for exhibiting courage. When we internalize this fact, we learn our first lesson in leadership.

Other great insights into this anniversary and moral leadership:

Why the Berlin Wall Fell, editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal.

Power of Four Little Words, by Anthony Dolan, a speechwriter in the Reagan Administration.

The Wall Fell, but Did Capitalism Rise?, by Slavoj Zizek. Thought-provoking piece, although I largely disagree with it.


Written by Russell S.

November 9, 2009 at 11:55 pm

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