founder of naked leader
Naked Leader Week – 260 – Monday 2 June May 2008
Do you have the time for this?
General Lee lived and died as perhaps the most beloved General in American military history – an extraordinary achievement for someone who led the “rebel” South in the civil war.
I have learned a lot about leadership from war leaders, and Lee teaches us a great deal about pride, loyalty and leading by personal example. These talents enabled him to unite a disparate army of under resourced volunteers into an army that at times so nearly won the war.
For me, the main leadership lesson from Lee is not from his charisma, his hard-work or his more widely acknowledged leadership skills, it comes from a short phrase he would use with his trusted generals that kept them focused.
One example is with his cavalry General – J.E.B Stuart. Stuart and his men were Lee’s eyes and ears on enemy movements. After one mission, Lee felt that Stuart had been away too long, and that as a result the South were without important intelligence.
Stuart walked over to his leader laid down his sword and said something like:
“If I have let you down, then I resign my position”
General Lee looked at him, before quietly returning Stuart’s sword, and saying to him, very calmly, and gently:
“We do not have time for this”
And Stuart saluted, knowing what was behind those words:
Yes, I believe you have made a mistake – but I trust you. You will learn from that mistake, and we have a bigger picture, a common cause, to focus on.
Often, in our organisations, in our careers, in our lives, small, irrelevant things can distract us. People we trust may make mistakes (here’s hoping – if they are not, then they are not doing much that is new and innovative). So, when you are about to be distracted from your big ambition:
Do you have time for this?
With my best wishes on you staying focused