"General Perspectives" discusses the development
of effective leadership theory, philosophy, and good executive coaching skills throughout the last several hundred years and
lays the ground work for reconstructing the Leader's basic leadership traits, characteristics, or leadership skills. It analyzes
many of the questionable preconceptions regarding good leadership strategy, principles, or theory commonly held by today's
senior and junior executives that are often perpetuated by the media, wrongly accepted as being effective leadership coaching
practices or strategy, or are basically outmoded leadership principles or creative folk tales. The purpose being to redirect
the Leader's creative mind-set and for him or her to begin development of an effective, more productive leadership philosophy
based upon a good, cogent, cause and effect analysis and sound leadership characteristics, skills, and traits.
1.1 Let's Get Started.
The underlying thesis of this monograph is the belief that every Leader's motivational impact is ultimately determined by
his or her behavior, and that productive leadership behaviors may be learned or improved and thereby enhance his or her effectiveness.
Thus the primary purpose of Face The Challenge is to teach aspiring groundbreakers how to think and subsequently
act like Leaders; and for them to acquire a greater understanding of the effect that their decisions or actions have on their
followers both intellectually and emotionally. Face The Challenge also attempts to uncover much of the mystery as to
why so many organizations do not seem to function as well as they might; why conventional leadership wisdom has repeatedly
failed to produce sustainable long-term solutions to many chronic leadership problems; and why both the leadership dinosaurs
and whiz kids of the late 20th century were unable to resolve their apparent operational deficiencies—let alone prepare
themselves or their organizations to take on the anticipated greater leadership challenges of the third millennium.
(A) Application of Principles.
Although Face The Challenge heavily emphasizes business leadership, the principles and ideas discussed herein are
applicable to a broad range of leadership situations including those found in government, community, religious, benevolent,
or military organizations. And whether Leaders can ultimately count their followers on their fingers or by the tens
of thousands, it is the depth of experience and knowledge that they gain at the lower and middle leadership echelons that
ultimately determines their caliber at the executive level, and if they are denied sufficient growth at these more elementary
levels it is highly doubtful that they will ever emerge as big guns. For it is at the lower supervisory rungs where
the distinguished service medals of leadership are earned, where those who hanker to fill senior management positions must
concentrate their motivational aptitude to achieve superior operational performance, and where a Leader's understanding and
application of his or her own leadership dynamic initially evolves. It is also the multitude of leadership skills acquired
at the embryonic stage of a start-up company, heading a small department, managing a retail location, leading a product group,
supervising a production unit, or wherever else Leaders must directly impact (stimulate) those who are actually performing
production tasks that provides them with the interactive motivational foundation upon which their future leadership prowess
will forever depend. As nearly all the assorted leadership shortcomings that beleaguer executive-suite tenants originate
from career path deficiencies that have somehow curtailed their leadership development. Consequently, to overcome such
obstacles, Leaders must relearn old lessons or assimilate new concepts; and by doing so, supplement their skills and modify
their personal behavior. In many instances, Leaders will have to "re-mentor" themselves in order to surmount the "unproductive,
unconscious, habitual behavioral patterns"—often unknowingly acquired—that impede their interactive and administrative
(B) Immediate Action. In
practical terms, readers will discover what they can do tomorrow morning to begin realizing their greater potential, how they
can increase their personal impact, and how by enhancing their leadership skills they can significantly improve their Subordinates'
morale and productivity. To this end, readers will find a detailed examination of how leadership behaviors affect Subordinate
motivation and a distillation of authoritative sources that will enhance their leadership acumen, expand their supervisory
horizons, and increase their personal proficiency rating. It is also assumed throughout this text that intelligent people
bent on self-improvement need a detailed analysis along with their expanded knowledge to make significant behavioral modifications—not
just general theories or abstract principles. For if it were possible for them to glean what they need to modify their
leadership behavior from such sources, that they would have already done so. Because "the fact is that the light of
principles, like that of lighthouses, guides only those who already know their way into port, and a principle bereft of the
means of putting it into practice is of no avail" (Henri Fayol, French Industrialist, Management Theorist & Author, 1841-1925).
The validity of the ideas and analysis presented herein rely almost exclusively upon the weight of reason, well acknowledged
leadership precepts, and the reader's own experience; and purposefully avoids depending upon any ambiguous leadership tenets
or esoteric, idealistic beliefs. Consequently, the ideas or recommendations presented are not an uprooting or abandonment
of everything the reader has learned up to this point; nor is an emotional catharsis, a total transformation, or any extraordinary
talent necessarily required for such conceptions to be successfully adopted or implemented. And no matter how overwhelming
it may at first appear, the mountain to improved leadership proficiency is not insurmountable. As once the reader has
made the first cut and been inducted into the supervisory ranks, it is more than likely that he or she possesses sufficient
raw ability or "right stuff" to be effective.
(C) Who will benefit. If
you depend on your ability to motivate others to do what you want to be done, then Face The Challenge will prove
invaluable. However, if your initial reaction to Face The Challenge is "gee, does it have to be so long," the
surest remedy for such an anxiety attack is for you to find yourself a shorter-winded messenger; much like terminally ill
patients who refuse a life-saving balm simply because they do not like how it tastes. Besides, it makes absolutely no
sense at all for you to endure such anguish, as this leadership testament is definitely not intended for Leaders of your ilk
or mental attitude. For those who have just a perfunctory interest in their personal growth will typically return this
volume to the bookstore shelf after their fingers have respectfully strummed its pages—as the amount of time necessarily
invested to read Face The Challenge will only appeal to the more seriously minded leadership student. Additionally,
these pages are not a collection of trite general wisdom or unimaginative superficial advice such as: "buy low and sell high,"
as this magnum opus is specifically intended for bigwigs-to-be who are at least one level above being able to benefit from
such prosaic pabulum. Nor is this work designed to guide the reader through specific supervisory situations, for such
an approach to improving one's overall leadership expertise is—in the author's opinion—both unencompassing and
misdirected. As merely surfing the crests of leadership thought, throwing out a barrage of lofty ideals, or depicting
some futuristic leadership Shangri-La does not significantly expand the bewildered leadership fledgling's knowledge of the
subject matter or improve his or her motivational skills; even though such rhetoric may prove to be temporarily uplifting.
And based upon its physical dimensions alone, readers should not expect a short synopsis or superficial treatment of the various
aspects of leadership; but rather sufficient depth to provide them with a comprehensive understanding of leadership behavior
and the related theories and concepts. For if the average Leader's proficiency over the last half-century is the measure
by which hundreds of much shorter volumes are to be judged, then there is definitely no need for another. Hence the
goal is not to provide Leaders with a quick, thumbnail sketch or magical list of rules that will somehow resolve all their
leadership ills over the next thirty days (though if such a list truly existed it would have been included); but to provide
them with a solid foundation for their continued leadership growth and an increased understanding of what motivates individuals
to excel at their tasks. More specifically, the objective is for readers: (i) to reaffirm their current beneficial leadership
behaviors, (ii) to broaden their understanding as to why such behaviors have a positive impact on others, (iii) to be able
to identify leadership behaviors that they may need to eliminate, modify, or improve, (iv) to become aware of alternative
positive behaviors to include in their leadership portfolio, and (v) to significantly add to their general leadership
knowledge and motivational expertise. But despite its obvious throw weight, Face The Challenge is not the "mother"
of all leadership books; as the subject matter itself is far too extensive for any such endeavor to prove all-inclusive.
It will also become evident that the author does not necessarily agree with all the conclusions or recommendations made by
some notable leadership authorities. Therefore readers will derive additional benefit from analyzing these different
perspectives and are encouraged to make a reasonable effort to do so (See Bibliography). And critical to benefiting
from this leadership writing is the assumption that the reader will be reasonably self-motivated; for being constrained by
the author's own limitations, this manuscript is admittedly somewhat dry and will generally fail to entertain. If however,
those persevering stalwarts glean only a fraction of what I learned about leadership while writing Face The Challenge
or repeat considerably fewer mistakes than I have made, my effort and their time will be well justified.
(D) Behavioral Orientation.
You, the Leader, are the "they" that your Subordinates blame when customers complain to them about inane corporate policies,
or that junior supervisors pass the proverbial buck to when they are confronted on similar issues by their own Subordinates
(e.g., "that's the way 'they' want it"). Thus if the group you lead—irrespective of its size or mission statement—is
not accomplishing the results you want, it is an unquestionable certainty that you are a formidable part of the problem.
So if you are inclined to think that some dumb SOB out there is the cause of all your trials and tribulations, your analysis
is probably right on target; and the effort to ferret out that incorrigible rapscallion should begin one morning by thoroughly
evaluating the image in your own bathroom mirror. For "if you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most
of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month" (Theodore Roosevelt, 26th U.S. President 1901-1909, 1858-1919). Correspondingly,
if you are personally unwilling or incapable of doing something differently tomorrow than you did today or yesterday, then
return this treatise to the shelf and save your money; for it is highly improbable that it will do you much good. As
achieving substantially improved results requires that something be done differently; and for Leaders to achieve substantially
improved results through their Subordinates requires that they change or augment their own leadership behavior. Conversely,
repeating the same behavior day in and day out, year in and year out, with the expectation of accomplishing different results,
undoubtedly qualifies such imperceptive leadership pea-brains for a padded six-by-ten at their local mental health facility
(Benjamin Franklin). Because substandard performance or outright failure does not usually result from "…one damn
thing after another.…[but from] the same damn thing over and over" (Edna St. Vincent Millay, American Poet, 1892-1950).
(E) Let the Debate Begin.
If you have gotten this far, grit your teeth, fasten your seat belt, and prepare for a possible arm-wrestling match.
As I am confident that some readers will be inclined to tell me why everything I have to say is not completely accurate, or
that they will prove equally resourceful at inventing some drawn-out, cockamamie rationale or excuse as to why every point
I have to make does not apply to their particular situation (note that abnormally wide margins are provided specifically for
the reader's comments). However, I do fully recognize that just because I happen to say something that it does not make
me right; but I am equally certain that just because a few readers happen to disagree with me that it does not make me wrong.
Though it is expected that Leaders who are already experiencing reasonably satisfactory results are the ones who are the most
likely to benefit from our unilateral dialogue; as they are also more likely to be receptive to new ideas and better able
to examine old behavioral patterns from a new perspective. But in any event, if you, the reader, "have heard all this
before" (though very unlikely) and are still experiencing run-of-the-mill Subordinate performance, then it is quite evident
that you need to hear it all again.
(F) Jump around if you must.
From an organizational standpoint this leadership discourse is probably best read straight through from the beginning to the
end; but such an approach is not absolutely necessary. As each chapter or section is designed to stand on its own with
little overlap or dependence upon other chapters or sections either previous or succeeding. However, readers are cautioned
against trying to abbreviate assimilating the full breadth of the concepts presented in an attempt to hand-pick only what
they think they need in the name of time economy. As such a cafeteria approach to self-improvement is as laughably absurd
as pharmacists inviting sick people behind the counter, pointing to the medicine shelves, and telling them to: "take what
they need and leave the rest." For greatly complicating this learning process is the fact that leadership is a broad-based
field of endeavor involving a multitude of interrelated concepts, theories, principles, and disciplines—both finite
and evolving; and rare are the leadership practitioners who can selectively make their way through this amalgam of knowledge
with any degree of success, though those who are presumptuous enough to believe that they possess such powers are common.
Thus predictably, "the path to failure is intersected by many more shortcuts than the road to success" (Unknown).
(G) Semantics. In common
application, "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet" (William Shakespeare, English Playwright, 1564-1616) and significant
progress on the leadership-motivational front is rarely made by splitting semantic hairs; thus the discussion of trifling
nuances with regard to terminology is herein steadfastly avoided. However to achieve greater clarity, the noun "Leader"
connotes someone who goes before, shows the way, influences, or otherwise guides or induces others to do something differently
or to change their direction; and—most importantly—is someone who has followers who will comply with his or her
directives and who primarily accomplishes his or her goals through others (Antony Jay, British Management Theorist & Author,
Corporation Man 1971). Leaders are also in a position charged with the responsibility for accomplishing an
objective and normally have some formal, authoritative power over those who follow them so as to require compliance with their
demands irrespective of the controlling circumstances or its origins. Managers, supervisors, foremen(women), or shift-Leaders
also have similar authority or responsibilities; but in the context of this manuscript, may not be on the leading edge of
change or be primarily accountable for moving others in a different direction; though all five terms are occasionally used
interchangeably. The terms organization or company may also mean supervisory unit, community, government, or other associations
or institutions. For the term Subordinate, as it is used in this text, the reader may substitute the terms: worker,
employee, follower, team member, associate, cast-member, partner, etc., as may be desirable; but under no circumstances is
the term "Subordinate" to be interpreted as a diminution of the dignity of the individual or an implication that some people
are in any way inherently inferior to others as human beings; the term is simply used to identify those follow a Leader or
who report to a manager or supervisor. The term "echelon" is used to designate a position or level of authority within
an organization structure or hierarchy and is occasionally used interchangeably with the terms "level" or "rank" to indicate
the breadth of a Leader's responsibility. No attempt has been made to give words expanded or unusual meanings other
than those that are commonly understood by the reasonably well informed reader. Wherever possible the source of a concept
or quotation is indicated in parenthesis. Other excerpts, concepts, or maxims which are not original to the author or
that are not in common usage, but whose origins are unknown, are also indicated by quotation marks.