From the Pages of History

Stories, Pictures, Quotes & Trivia (and more) that tell the story of the world.

Leadership: The Perceptive Leader

Without question, styles of leadership are different in different times and contexts.

Compare Harriet Tubman with Andrew Young, who worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. They both wanted to help their people, the African-Americans. But they did so in very different ways, Tubman going the radical route and Young working diplomatically. Harriet Tubman’s focused, tight leadership during the Civil War was necessary because of the time of war in which she lived; she was willing to risk it all by going all out to help slaves escape. The goal of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Andrew Young was to win equality for their people in a different way—calmly and deliberately. Young, a diplomat, had to go slower and feel things out because of the turbulent times of the Civil Rights movement in which he was involved. Similar goals, different times, different methods.

Due to the Theocratic society that Israel was, charismatic King David, popular because he was chosen and blessed by God, was extremely influential. Because of what modern business is, with workers rights, unions and trade laws, a modern businessman have to use a different style of leadership than a 19th century factory owner would have used. According to Garry Wills’ book Certain Trumpets: The Nature of Leadership, “leadership must differ from situation to situation.” A leader that understands the times and acts accordingly is most effective.

However, some things stay the same for leaders throughout the ages. Arguably the most essential thing for all leaders, no matter when they live, is that they have to care for and understand their followers. Garry Wills accurately states in Certain Trumpets, “The leader most needs followers.” During the Depression, Franklin Roosevelt understood the need for encouragement in America and worked to boost morale as well as the economy. Harriet Tubman was so concerned with the safety of her operation and “passengers” that on her trips she would rather kill a slave than let him go back, because of the risk of betrayal. Business owners will not be successful unless they take into consideration the needs and wants of their employees. Considering the followers is one thing that must be done by ALL leaders.

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