Book Chapter – Depth and Spirit

A ny company or organisation which is focused solely on money is out of touch with the times. The need for financial returns must be contextualised. American businesses often seem to pursue their ends with impressive focus and vigour, but with too much weight on short-term financial returns.

Leo Tolstoy, the Russian writer, talks about the importance of spirit in his epic novel, War and Peace. The great generals never aimed a gun or killed a man. Everything was done by their soldiers, who killed their enemies in obedience to the spirit imposed by the leader. Deciding the outcome was the spirit of the men, their greater or lesser eagerness to face danger and fight, quite irrespective of the genius of generals. Tolstoy goes onto say “

The strength of an army depends on the spirit that animates it and victory is the outcome of the feelings that dwell in every soldier.”

Leadership is about encouraging and building that spirit. Our mind wants to understand which factors decide this imponderable spirit. However, it isn’t that simple, as it varies from person to person and it may well be the sum of many small things rather than a few key attributes. Competence, confidence, caring, convincing and consideration are all factors that help build authority and loyalty. These qualities are not spin-offs or ‘nice-to-haves’; they are key aspects of leadership. Good leadership is about evoking the fire within more than a matter of using force or incentive, the whip or the carrot. Often authenticity is paramount, i.e. showing who you are, naturally and without pretence, levelling with people and telling them the way it is. Leaders must show more concern for their people than for themselves.
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