A Look at Management vs. Leadership
A group of students from the University of Texas recently asked Corrine Taylor to set up an interview with me on the subject of leadership. My schedule hasn’t allowed me to do that interview yet, but their request did trigger some thoughts on the subject.
Maybe I’m splitting semantic hairs, but businesspeople who say “leadership” usually mean, “being a good manager.”
But leadership and management, in my experience, are virtually opposite skill sets.
Management requires wisdom, patience and strength. Basically, it’s parenting, bringing forward the best of the past, enforcing the status quo.
Leadership requires independence, audacity and courage. It's inherently defiant, questioning the past, challenging the status quo.
And then there are those perky Chihuahuas barking “Leadership! Leadership! Put me in charge! I’ll tell everyone what to do! I’m a trained leader, I’ve been to a seminar!”
No, you’re just a weasel who wishes he were the furry-hatted drum major of a marching band. (Yes, I have a prejudice against self-styled leaders. Does it show?)
True leaders require no authority. They think their own thoughts, make their own decisions, carry out their own plans. They say, “This is what I’ve decided to do.”
And then they do it. Others see them doing it and decide to follow.
Leaders lead from the front.
Managers manage from behind.
Alexander the Great was always the first over the wall of an enemy city. Whether his men followed him was up to them. Alexander was a true leader. “I’m going in, boys!”
Geronimo, the famous Apache leader, was not a tribal chief but a spiritual advisor, a historian of the people and a protector of their beliefs. He said, “I have something I need to do.” And when the other Apaches saw what he was doing, they decided to help him.
The Architect of the landmark buildings at Wizard Academy, Marley Porter, is a true leader. Those of us who love Marley know he is barely passable as a manager but when it comes to visionary architecture, few architects are in his class.
In fact, most architects have never even glimpsed his class.
Who but a leader says, “Let's build the chapel over the edge of the cliff.”
Then, when the real estate agent pointed into the rocky crag below that cliff and said, “Those 7 acres are throwaway land. Basically, you're getting those acres for free,” Marley Porter said, “That's where we're going to build the student mansion.”
When I said, “We need a classroom tower,” Marley finished the sentence, “with an underground entrance.”
Frank Lloyd Wright's most famous design, Fallingwater, is a home built over a waterfall. Any architect might have drawn it, but none had the courage to suggest something so absurd.
Every American architect studied Frank Lloyd Wright in college but few of them will ever draw anything like Fallingwater. These architects have intellect, training and talent. What they lack is the audacity.
How about you? Do you have the audacity to do your own thing, go your own way and ride your own bullet without ever looking back?
A Marley Porter building doesn't require a lot of money, but it does require a boatload of courage. Fortunately, our board of directors has that in abundance. Oz Jaxxon, Corrine Taylor, Ray Bard, Mark Fox, Jodie Gateman and Nick Grant are a constant source of inspiration to me.
Maybe boldness is genetic.
Maybe it's a product of environment.
But I think it's just a choice.
But I wasn't at all surprised to learn that Marley's mother's mother was a Hancock. Yes, from that line of Hancocks. This boldest of American architects is a direct descendant of the man whose very name is synonymous with boldness. Thomas Jefferson wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” and then, in an unmistakably large, sweeping script, Marley Porter's grandfather flipped King George a polite bird.
John Hancock was willing to pull the trigger and ride the bullet to wherever it took him. He was definitely our brand of crazy. Are you?
Will you write your name large – John Hancock style – across the flickering tablet of life and time?
Come to Wizard Academy, a nontraditional business school. We'll help you get started.
Bring your pen.
Roy H. Williams
PS – Choose a Portal and Secure Your Invitation to the grand opening gala of Wizard Academy's new landmark tower, the building that could easily become the Fallingwater of our generation. We can finish the tower this winter if we have the money. Will we? Your gift is tax deductible.
The new crew of Magellan numbered exactly 164 at midnight, Saturday. That means our scholarship recipient will be Ruth Gilbert. Thanks, everyone. We still need to press forward to 280, though, so tell all your adventurous friends about it. A few weeks after the grand opening gala of the tower, we'll schedule a meeting of Magellan's 280, take a group photo of the crew, and have an all-day circumnavigator's event. Believe me, everyone who isn't there is going to be wishing they had forked over the $100 when they had the chance.
Coincidence! Today's Monday Morning Memo was already written, recorded and programmed in our server when my friend Richard Pachter sent me an email about a new book: “In Walk the Walk, Alan Deutschman offers a new take on the true nature of great leadership. Though some experts make it seem complicated, it is actually breathtakingly simple. According to Deutschman, most leaders focus too much on what they say and not nearly enough on setting an example.”
NOTE TO MARK FOX: Contact this Alan Deutschman fellow and see if he'd like to make an appearance at Wizard Academy. Could be a very cool event. And thanks for sharing those tidbits from Da Vinci and the 40 Answers with Hot Dog Heaven. Two people signed up immediately for the December session and others said they were planning to do the same.
IN THE TOWER PHOTO BELOW, Jose is preparing the Jean Backus entrance for the installation of its giant iron door. Click the image and you'll see a photo from the opposite angle.