leaders are visionary, sacrificial, December 30, 2007, 2D.
Braveheart, Mel Gibsons
1995 movie about the Scottish freedom fighter William Wallace, is a great case study in
leadership. Through inspirational acts and
appeals, persuasive communication, vision setting, personal example, risk taking and
self-sacrifice, Wallace rallies his countrymen to fight and defeat the English in battle. The contrasts of Wallaces character to those
of King Edward I (Longshanks), the noblemen, and Robert the Bruce and his father provide
additional insight into the dynamics of true leadership.
ordered his troops into battle and oversaw the fighting from the safety of a distant
hilltop, Wallace personally led the charge into battle and fought alongside the men who
believed in and followed him. Whereas Robert
the Bruce and his noblemen were tempted by Longshanks offers of land and titles,
Wallace wanted nothing but freedom for his people. And
whereas self-interest, power, and political maneuvering drove the actions of the noblemen,
Wallaces motives were portrayed as pure and selflessfor the benefits of his
people and future generations of Scotsmen.
Toward the end of
movie, Robert the Bruce finally grasped the true meaning of leadership. In anguish, he told his father, Men fight
for me because if they do not, I throw them off my land and I starve their wives and
children. Those men who bled the ground red at Falkirk fought for William Wallace. The film ends with Robert the Bruce taking up the
cause of William Wallace and leading his men into battle against the English.
Leadership is a
common word that is used in all types of organizations.
Although it is commonly used, it is less commonly practiced. How many people can say that they have worked with
people who could be called visionary, inspirational, and self-sacrificing? How many leaders have you worked with
that possesses pure and unalterable motives and really look out for the needs and
interests of others? In what circumstances
have you encountered such leaders?
Richard Couto, in
his writings on Citizen Leadership, argued that our society is filled with leaders of
extraordinary quality who work out of the public spotlight in the service of societal
needs and ills. Citizen leaders, as Couto
called them, rally and mobilize others to remedy needs in their communities without
receiving the usual types of honor and reward that are desired by those in paid positions
in for-profit organizations. Citizen leaders
put their causes ahead of themselves and work relentlessly to enlist others to join the
cause and then mobilize their efforts and public sentiment toward remedying the
problemsometimes at great personal cost.
The core ideas of
leadership that are evident in Citizen Leadership are equally important in for-profit
organizations. Todays business world is
in desperate need of leadersthe popular and professional management literature says
so. Like Robert the Bruce, managers and
executives must realize that people rally around leaders and the visions and causes that
they espouse and if they only rely upon position and authority to get workers to perform,
they will not be viewed as leaders.