Friday, June 20, 2014

leading and learning

Someone has stated that "all leaders are readers."  I would agree, with the added phrase that "all leaders are learners."  I have come to realize that not everyone learns by reading, something I take into account now when asked my ideas on a topic.  Rather than jumping in and recommending a book, I will first ask if they are a reader, and if so, then recommend a book.  If they are not a reader, recommending a book will not help them learn, so it is up to me to find other ways to help them do so (mentoring, TED talks, internet sites, others who have done something similar, etc.).  As I have begun my summer of reading (and learning), here are a few things I have come to learn in the past several weeks:

  1. From reading The Cave and the Light by Arthur Herman, I have come to realize that different people understand politics and governance with different means and ends in mind (are they Aristotelian or Platonian?).  I am going to be doing a lot of research into political philosophy as I consider best structures for governance.
  2. From reading Means of Ascent by Robert Caro, I began to further understand how one uses influence to achieve a certain end...while I may not want to be a ruthless (some may use other words) as Lyndon Johnson was, he has taught me that it is important to act politically to achieve goals.
  3. From reading Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven by John Elliot Gardner, I was again reminded of the power of the arts in helping shape the "ethos" of an organization.  Bach's ability to make the word come alive through the music is still an amazing feat he accomplished week after week in his Church Cantatas.
  4. From reading the Psalms, I am again reminded of God's constant love for me - and of the consistent pressure about me to do wrong.  The psalmist knew that he was up against the powers of the devil, the world, and his sinful self...and that he needed God's protection to move forward.
  5. From reading the Tao Te Ching I am reminded that what often seems the right thing to do may be just the opposite of what needs to be done - this text is so full of paradoxes that make so much sense, especially in the role of leading and managing others.
The summer continues - and so does the learning.  More books are on the list for the next several weeks and months (and more to come in the near and long term future as well).  What are you reading - and learning - about leadership?

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