Leadership Does not Equal Captaincy - but Maybe it Does at Least Sometimes or Partly


March 23, 2012; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets Captain Rick Nash Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-US PRESSWIRE

In trying to get a handle on leadership, I turned to business/management area for help.  The Best Leader I ever Knew Link is a management article. the following is an excerpt, and then edited for length.

So what was it about this ordinary man that made him such a great leader? Was he born with it? Did he learn it? Why would people, literally, follow him into war? How did he earn the respect and loyalty of sailors to admirals; from secretary to president; from golf buddy to school board president? You only had to work with him once to know he was special. Even those who disagreed with him recognized that, but what was it about him?

These are the things that can help all of us be a little more of a leader.

He knew what he wanted to do. It is awfully hard to get others to do what you want if you don’t know what you want. If you manage a customer service center, is your goal to have the lowest cost operation or to answer all calls within 90 seconds. The goal isn’t as important as knowing what it is.

He told people what to do, not how to do it. He was a very smart but he knew he wasn’t smarter than everyone. He encouraged people to think, to innovate, to be creative.

He did his homework. Before starting a new challenge, he always tried to find out what others had tried that had succeeded or failed. He tried to give himself the best chance of winning by learning as much as could at the beginning.

He led by example. He pushed his people hard. He demanded a lot of them. But no one ever worked harder than he did. He was the first one in and the last one to leave. And he worked hard the whole time he was there.

He demanded excellence, not perfection. He expected you to work as hard as he did and to be as committed to the goal as he was. He didn’t expect you to do as much or as well as he did, he insisted, however, that you do as much and as well as you could.

He took care of his people. He knew everyone who worked for him as an individual. He knew their strengths and weaknesses, their aspirations, their fears. He always took the criticism from outside the group, but let each of them take the praise for what they contributed.

He was humble. I never understood why. With all he had done and had accomplished in his life, he was always modest.

He had character. He was honest and truthful. He was dependable. When he gave you his word, you always knew you could count on it. He didn’t cheat.

Interestingly, another quote from the same source is:  The Key Leadership Trait

The first, and most important characteristic, of a leader is the decision to become a leader. At some point in time, leaders decide that they want to provide others with vision, direct the course of future events and inspire others to success. Leadership requires the individual to practice dominance and take charge. If you choose to become a leader, whether in your workplace, community or during an emergency, the discussion of these characteristics will help you formulate the appropriate mix of traits, skills and ambition. Successful leaders choose to lead.

So from all this,  we can gather that : [1] A leader must want to lead. [2] A leader must have followers, who feel empowered to do their job. [3] A leader must have a vision, which includes a goal. [4] A leader should have character and integrity. [5] A leader should require each person’s best and perform the same way.

A Captain, on the other hand needs items #1,3,5 and the first part of #2.

My research turned up an interesting special edition magazine  that was just published. It’s called The Captains. Their choice for the best of all time hockey captain , and here is the quote:

  • No qualms with the top choice. Jean Beliveau is the epitome of what every hockey leader should be – classy, elegant, and, most importantly, a winner.

So a leader is just a bit more than a Captain. Let’s go back to the Henry Kissinger quote,  “The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.”

The Blue Jackets need leaders. But they will emerge by themselves and will not necessary have a “C” pasted on them. They, the future leaders,  have an arduous task. But if the right people are “in the room” the Blue Jackets will go “where they have not been”    We Want The Cup



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