Ancient Observations on Leadership

Socrates

Although strategic leadership focuses on the future, it is, in fact, an ancient concept. The word “Strategy” (strategia in Greek) originally referred exclusively to leadership in a military context. Five hundred years before the birth of Jesus Christ, a “strategos” was a Greek senior, experienced, and successful military commander.  It is the equivalent of a modern-day Army general or Navy admiral.

The Greek philosopher Socrates apparently thought often about the subject of strategic leadership. He believed that just as craftsmen learn their skills, so too can ordinary people learn to become capable, even exemplary, leaders.

Xenophon, who became a strategos of great fame, was a member of Socrates’s inner circle. According to Xenophon, Socrates believed that soldiers would follow leaders who demonstrated both competency and knowledge. Xenophon wrote of what high standards Socrates had for any strategos: “He must be

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Leadership on a Hope and a Prayer

Leadership on a Hope and a Prayer

Real leadership is not done on a hope and a prayer. Yet all too often I hear, “I’ll figure it out as I go along and hope for the best.” Or, in the church world, “We will just pray hard and hope for a miracle.”

I will not, I repeat, I will not turn this into a theological debate. In fact, one is not necessary since most of us will agree that God is big enough to bail us out of any problem that we get ourselves into.

But, is it leadership when we count a miraculous intervention?

Many us flirt with a dangerous mixture of optimism and carelessness. Words like, “I’ll figure something out” have come out of my mouth on many occasions.  This is not a strategy. It is not a responsible leadership approach. In fact, often it only serves to “kick the can down the road” and say that we will deal with it later.

Hope is not a strategy!

Many times I am left to wonder what someone is thinking when I see that person in a bad situation that is getting worse, yet they seem to have no clue. They often have no strategic plan, no initiative, and no sense of urgency.

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