How to Steer?

Leadership is something that can be taught, but most of it is a born quality. That being said many can rise to the occasion to show leadership traits. To me a good leader can look inwards and be objective to oneself. Listen to all sides, and make the right decision for the whole when needed to. A true leader, doesn’t berate others when their opinion contradicts their own, he/ or she, values the input given by others. You should be able to talk to a leader without any fear of being judged. A leader should make you look forward to being around them, or make a chore or job easier, not more difficult.  

 Being a leader can be a hard job. In different careers, and professions it can be symbolic and the requirements of a leader and those he leads can be more demanding and different. The more people you lead the more you can only show so much.

 A General in war may only show as a figurehead to maintain morale, and teach through strength and perseverance when in the face of the enemy. While a teacher should be more accommodating and friendly with an entirely different face and leadership approach.  

  I’ve been working since I was 13. I’ve seen all different types of people in the leadership role. Some good, some alright, and some shouldn’t speaking to people in public. Some are people you could run to with a problem and some are your problem. That’s the business of business I guess. You either bare it or look for another job.

  As a history nerd I have ALOT of leaders of admired. But for the sake of the reader and being relevant i’ll only mention my modern day 19th century leader idols, and my two own personal mentors who have affected my life.


Famous leaders

   Henry A. Wallace, a man ahead of the times, who during some of the darkest times in American history stood his own ground. Despite the masses, and often outcried to those who would deface the values of his own democratic party, and most often in his own party.

  As of 2017, he remains the last Democratic vice president who never served in the United States Senate and indeed the last vice president of any party who had not previously held any elected office.

Wallace also famously spoke out during the Detroit race riot of 1943, declaring that the nation could not “fight to crush Nazi brutality abroad and condone race riots at home.”

 After Wallace feuded publicly with other Democratic high officials, Roosevelt stripped him of his war agency responsibilities. Although a Gallup poll taken just before the 1944 Democratic National Convention found 65% of those surveyed favored renomination for Wallace and only 2% favored his eventual opponent, Harry S Truman, it was Truman who went on to win the vice presidential nomination.

 During the 1944 Democratic convention Wallace had a favorable lead on the other candidates for the vice presidential nomination, but lacked the majority needed to win the nomination. In a turn of events much scrutinized, just as Wallace began to receive the votes needed for the nomination, the convention was deemed a fire hazard and pushed back to the next day. When the convention resumed Truman made a jump from 2% in the polls all the way to winning the nomination. Wallace was succeeded as Vice President on January 20, 1945, and on April 12, Vice President Truman succeeded to the Presidency when President F.D.R died.


 My second and absolutely  one of my favourite historical leaders is J.F.K. While his leadership definitely had tough decisions, and may or may not of always been right.. He stuck by them and even while dealing with the U.S.S.R during the height of the cold war, he kept a cooler head than most. His presidency could be said to be the epitome of a modern day tough leadership.

 For example; In a July 1961 speech, Kennedy announced his decision to add $3.25 billion to the defense budget, along with over 200,000 additional troops, stating that an attack on West Berlin would be taken as an attack on the U.S. The speech received an 85% approval rating. And eventually lead to what was known as the Berlin wall. Where East and West Germany wouldn’t see each other till Ronald Reagan’s Presidency in Nov in 1989.

 The bay of pigs where  fifteen hundred U.S.-trained exiled Cubans, called Brigade 2506 landed on the island, and were swiftly defeated and captured. After twenty months, Cuba released the captured exiles in exchange for $53 million worth of food and medicine. He took responsibility for the failure, saying: “We got a big kick in the leg and we deserved it. But maybe we’ll learn something from it.”

 J.F.K’s leadership record is huge, includes the Cuban missile Crisis, intervention with Laos, first President to make diplomatic treaties with Israel. Not to mention his space program, which helped beat the U.S.S.R to the moon. And last but certainly not least his help in abolishing Jim Crow laws and segregation schools still prevalent in the deep south.

  If you’re still reading, thanks for sticking out my lecture. I do wanna just make a quick note that my own personal leaders/ mentors that affected me the most are. My Grade 11 & 12 teacher Mr. Blum. He’s what made me actually like school, through his monotone voice, and punny sense of humor. I remember taking his European History course and liking him so much as a teacher and a mentor, that in grade 12 I took his english class called African Heritage. Where our class of six got a picture on the front page, and the reporter named me Billy Gregon…….

And of course the biggest mentor/leader my dad. Whose taught me all the good traits that embolden who I am I wouldn’t be half the person I’m without his example.

 I think the famous J.F.K quote is where i’ll leave this at. “It’s not what your country can do for you. But what you can do for your country.’

What I take from that quote is,  it’s a two way street when it comes to personal endeavours whether work or other social interactions with leadership in place. When it comes to steering the ship in the right direction. You can be a great captain but if the people under you don’t follow the orders properly or can’t work together then you’re not going to get far. And vice versa if you have a terrible captain you could just be drifting to sea or worse…..

1 thought on “Lead Er Ship”

Looking at leaders that have affected our lives, many people are drawn to 3 influential roles: parents, teachers, and politicians. Each can shape our lives in very different ways, depending on the time of our life we associate them with (typically childhood to adulthood) but also the closeness of the relationship we have with them.

It’s interesting, particularly in the case of parents and teachers, where they are an overlapping force for so much of our young lives. I’ve often thought that a good parent can take on aspects of a teacher, and a good teacher can take on aspects of a parent. This ‘yin yang’ balanced force makes a huge imprint on how we can view authority and leadership later in life.

Political and cultural leaders are different, in that we often have no direct connection to them, and yet can share values and an emotional bond through others of like-mind in society. Their decisions and ideals can influence us in many ways, but they can be seen more as a symbol than a relationship.

Comparing the life of a business to our personal lives, it’s not hard to see some similarities between the founder of a startup and our parents/teachers. The tight knit group of early employees resemble a family or class much more than the sprawling departments of a Fortune 500, where CEOs can become more of a symbol than a colleague. Much like our own personal growth, how leadership imprints on us early on can have a profound effect on company culture and the perception of authority as the business grows into maturity.

Thanks for the post Billy!

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