What is Leadership?
Successful leaders are committed to “creating a world to which people want to belong”. Successful leadership involves managing relationships and communicating within a team to move towards a specific goal. Leadership is the ability to: “express a vision, influence others to achieve results, encourage team cooperation, and be an example.” – Forio.com
Aragorn was describes as, “possessing Elven wisdom – due to his childhood in Rivendell with Elrond – and the foresight of the Dúnedain. He was a mighty warrior and an unmatched commander. Due to his position as Isildur’s heir, Aragorn had impressive powers for a man.” – Wiki
In a recent article from Forbes, Author Geoff Loftus, has brought forward an interesting perspective to successful leadership lessons for business. His model for this perspective is Tolkien’s Aragorn.
The following are the four leadership lessons from the Forbes article:
Stay Focused: Aragorn is part of the Fellowship of the Ring, a team of characters who set out to save the world by destroying the great ring of power. Aragorn is not tasked with taking the ring itself to destruction, but he protects Frodo, the ringbearer, as long as he can. Despite facing a troll, goblins, and the Nazgûl (terrifyingly bad dudes), Aragorn keeps Frodo safe. Late in the story, when Aragorn has been separated from Frodo for a long time, he creates a giant diversion to help Frodo penetrate Mordor and destroy the ring.
In the midst of chaos and stress, Aragorn never loses focus: the ring must be destroyed. How does staying focused work in real life? Well, take a look at Apple‘s focus on delivering a high-quality, well-designed customer experience with every product. Given Apple’s valuation lately, staying focus looks like a good way to proceed.
Care for Your People: Aragorn never forgets his teammates. No matter how badly things are going, no matter how much stress, combat, and death is in the air, he always takes the time to be caring. When the Fellowship of the Ring is broken up by orcs (orcs are super foul goblins for those of you who don’t know your Tolkien), Aragorn leads Legolas, an elf, and Gimli, a dwarf, on a seemingly hopeless quest – to find and save two of their hobbit friends Merry and Pippin who’ve been kidnapped by the orcs. Their quest won’t change the course of events, but it’s the right thing to do.
Hopefully your organization is pulling out of the recession and is seeing profit growth. If so, you need to make sure that any executives, managers, and front-line workers who sacrificed to get the organization through, get raises now. It’s the right thing to do. (And if that isn’t a good enough reason to do it, do it because it’s pragmatic: Do you want your competition hiring away your really good people?)
No Ego: Aragorn is king, literally, but he never asks for special treatment. In fact, he has to be reminded regularly that he is the rightful heir to the most powerful throne in Middle Earth. Instead of enjoying his royal privileges, Aragorn continuously puts himself into harm’s way, leaping into danger ahead of his team. He’s not concerned with his royal title; he only worries about saving Middle Earth (see “Stay Focused”).
No U.S. Senator would ever have to ask Aragorn – as one did JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon – about clawbacks. If Aragorn failed to protect his people (customers, stockholders, employees) as Dimon did to the tune of billions of dollars, the board wouldn’t have time to clawback any of his compensation. He’d return it all as the price of his failure and then set about doing a much better job.
Get Tough: Aragorn is the toughest son of a gun there is. He almost single-handedly fends off an attack of five Nazgûl. Near the end of Fellowship of the Ring, he beheads an orc captain. He leads Legolas and Gimli on a long, tireless trek through Rohan, chasing orcs who’ve kidnapped Merry and Pippin. Aragorn faces down the King of the Dead and tens of thousands of warrior souls. And he leads the surviving armies of Gondor and Rohan against the very gates of Mordor when there is no hope of survival in doing so.
In 2006, William Clay Ford, Jr., realized that, despite his last name, he wasn’t the right guy to be Ford Motor Company’s CEO, so he hired Alan Mulally to take over. Mulally wasn’t a car guy (he was from Boeing), so he wasn’t the obvious choice. But Ford made the tough decision and hired the right guy. Mulally also got tough, immediately resurrecting the Ford Taurus, and then selling the Land Rover, Jaguar, Aston Martin, and Volvo brands to concentrate on Ford. In 2011, he eliminated Mercury from the Ford lineup.
The result of all this getting tough: Ford Motor Company was the only one of Detroit’s Big Three not to go bankrupt in the recession and not to take government money. And it was the first to be profitable again.
Thanks Rifflo! Nice post! Not that I needed a reminder why Aragorn is one of my top two LotR characters. 🙂
Rifflo, I love these posts! Keep them coming! : )