Statesman or Leader? By © Copyright 2009 Andres Agostini (Andy)
Everything has become so very complicated these days. Complexity, if the leader is to be truly successful and sustainably successful in increasingly amorphous, re-adaptable, uncharted waters, he must understand complexity multidimensionally. Identifying this fact and verifying its increasingly complex nature, take us to great depth and breadth of reflection. For a long while, all-walks-of life people has made some inappropriate jokes on, “…you don’t need a rocket scientists to do that…” Sometimes you do need a prominent scientist handy. Some other times you do need to operate on the breakthrough by such prominent scientist.
You explain how to make a pencil plainly – and in the process – you will miss a whole body of numerical and narrative data. But if you listen up to two manufacturing scientists to speak about the creation of a single and plain pencil, you’ll immediately realize that the great majority of even learned people have taken for granted, for decades, a number of flaw assumptions. Clearly, this is fact but this also a metaphor.
The pencil metaphor applies to any endeavor in life as it is brought about by the marshaling-in-the-entrenched-fields leaders. As people “satirize” the rocket scientists pejoratively, in general people oppose to those who – as per these current times – are against the simple conception (and linearity) of so-called “common sense.” Getting back for a second to rocket scientists, through NASA and for the totality of fields of knowledge, they opened up so many windows of opportunity to accessing to leading knowledge. How?
NASA’s scientists, leading some 400 different contractors for the Apollo Program, conceived and instilled to the Shakespearean lingua franca 20,000 new terms, new terms of universal usage by prominent thought leaders. Shakespeare, at his time, endowed the fascinating and sophisticated English language with 10,000 new words. Both efforts are highly appreciated by those who are always challenging Cambrian “common sense.” Who would dare to satirize the Apollo Program and its zillion of by-products and by-services, remembering that a “product” is a service waiting to happen?
I am a strong believer of perpetual education, perennial mind-shaping, eternal global sophistication, as well as extremely instituted preparation way before undertaking any responsibility. In preparing – having done your prior homework by thinking unthinkably – it is absolutely crucial to have a bold and broad contingency planning not for the sake of theory but for the sake of pragmatic and accelerated resolution of problems. “Theory” has been caricaturized heavily by some alleged leaders. Einstein, on the subject matter, reminds us: “I do not know of anything more practical than theory.”
A prominent Danish physicist, Dr. Niels Bohr (1885 – 1962), offered some words of wisdom to countermeasure the ridicule validity of “common sense.” His actual words were “One of the favorite maxims of my father was the distinction between the two sorts of truths, profound truths recognized by the fact that the opposite is also a profound truth, in contrast to trivialities where opposites are obviously absurd.” No more are these the times of Thomas Paine.
I need to add something important to the great intellect of Dr. Bohrs’ quotation. There are two additional dimensions of “truth” very much in use these days. One is the “adversarial truth” that is sentenced by a judge. The other – extremely important to me and without undermining the crucial value of due process jurisprudence – is the “scientific truth,” chiefly that as per the applied omniscience. Since in science the insidious “over- politicization” does not make an entrance, depth is much more profound and much less subjective.
Beyond taking this or that side, it is opportune to admit that honorable Senator Edward Kennedy was an actual personification of an engaged leader indeed. I do like – to a great extent – leadership as exercised by honorable president Donald Reagan too. The United States and the World has lost a great leader. My condolences to the family and friends of Senator Kennedy.
Staying on our magnificent leadership theme, I have a story for you by John F. Kennedy. We know the world lived then an extremely difficult time with the Cold War, among other “amenities.” I suggest my colleagues and customers to read thrice the speech by President Kennedy at Rice University. There is this avid habit of John, Robert, and Edward – not meaning to rule out any other within that great family – that I am in most agreement with. And referring to the huge importance that they all gave to being totally immersed on continuous education and outgrowing their own selves. I have former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair in high regard. It is not my job to judge him on anything. As discussing some public policies in advancing the qualitative and quantity state of the British Education Systems, you could hear him repeat and repeat out-loudly three words, “EDUCATION, EDUCATION, EDUCATION.”
NASA’s Chief Engineer Dr. Werner von Braun invited President Kennedy to witness the testing of some rocket engine in direct connection with the prior efforts that ascertain the triumph of the Apollo Program. As the President was on the respective site and walking through and to the observational location, he bumped into a maintenance gentleman. He noticed that he was brushing energetically the corridors of the NASA installation. More or less, President Kennedy asked this hard-working person, “What are you doing?” I think Mr. Kennedy noticed that the man was over-committed in being compliant with his work and still he looked proud of his “rough” responsibility. The man replied the President with these words, “…making certain that a Man goes to the Moon and comes back safely.” Clearly, this worker was following up on the most vocal speeches by President Kennedy. He is a canonical landmark example of the follower (co-leader). He, too, was a statesman.
When some of my friends, colleagues or customers asks me why I want to undertake a major, complex challenge, I respond to them – almost instinctively – “…because it is difficult…,” respectfully paraphrasing President Kennedy keynote and wisest speech.
Some authors, writers, editors, and bloggers use illustrations and tables among other “tools” to illustrate their ideas better. I use those and also institute the enunciation of great and even unknown quotations. I like to get my message across to be helpful. Some critics don’t like this but only the usage of wording. Archimedes and Pythagoras gave unimpeachable dissertations that do not favor said critics. These savants would not only write but draw and sketch, not to mention Leonardo da Vinci’s enterprises to enlighten souls and minds until these days.
In speaking about leadership – our central matter – we must see many flanks, especially those ignored by ages as we open up our minds to the most. Exercising leadership efficaciously and timely is an act of success capturing the designated goals and objectives early on.
I get people involved with some actionable tenets to get the leadership going above and beyond when the going gets tough too. I also use some “action” expressions – in the most accurate possible way – to get our minds even more prepared. Sometimes I make a great number of unanswered questions. Yes, I like to ask myself endless questions as well, 24/7.
To this end I believe useful to reflect on some words of wisdom by President Kennedy. WHY? Because, as per my POV, I believe it will serve us well extending and extending further our conceptions, assumptions, and perhaps our own system of beliefs, cosmosvision, and comfort zones, especially in reference with leadership.
He said: “Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friends and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans – born in this century [Twentieth Century], tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage – and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world. Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”
Isn’t that great? Yet, Isn’t that valid as per this eons-streaming age? Isn’t this the precise personification of an actionable statesman? To be a true statesman you must first be a leader. The maintenance gentleman spoke about it before, that is, a statesman both leading and following within his / her frame of reference.
The American Heritage Dictionary, regarding the lexicon statesman, refers: “A man who is a LEADER in national or international affairs … A male political LEADER regarded as a disinterested promoter of the public good … A man who is a respected leader in a given field.”
To gain a greater perspective on the term “statesman,” I will facilitate the definition the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. As follows:
“…one versed in the principles or art of government; especially : one actively engaged in conducting the business of a government or in shaping its policies … one who exercises political leadership wisely and without narrow partisanship.”
The compound term “and without narrow partisanship” exactly equates to win over the minds and souls of your crew (team). And you can only secure this by being extremely coherent among thought, word, and deed. Being accountable, responsible, and transparent – at all times regardless of whatever other considerations – will make one a successful leader.
On “statesman” the English Oxford Dictionary offers great insight in complement. “Person skilled, especially one taking prominent part, in management of State affairs; sagacious far-sighted practical politician … person of ripe years and experience whose counsel is therefore sought and valued …”
The Standard Encyclopedic Dictionary tell us, regarding a statesman, as ensues: “One who is skilled in government; a political leader of distinguished abilities … One engaged in government, or influential in state affairs…”
I found a new definition to enlighten us further by the Webster’s New World Dictionary. As follows: “A person who shows wisdom, skill, and vision in conducting state affairs and dealing with public issues, or one engaged in the business of government.”
All of these definitions touch the word government. Harvard University Professor Michael Porter extended the quality of the statesman to any type of organization, either public or private or for-a-profit or NGOs or supranationals (such as the United Nations, the World Health Organization, the Organization of American States, the World Bank, so forth).
The statesman leader is equally a great leader or a splendid follower. A governor, a major, a priest, a manager can each be statesman too.
I did speak a bit about the ego issues. To tell you my way, I prefer a great deal of ego than a great deal of low self-esteem. If the ego is sick, it should be institutionalized. This discussion is flying into loosing the sense of the ridicule. It reminds me of those byzantine deliberations regarding the genders of the Angels.
The EGO possessor has something extremely good. That is, he / she exudes energy like a gigantic dynamo. I have seen many so-called “ego-trippers” with great communication abilities, with compassion and civility, with a sense of cooperation, with a marked sense of following through directives, protocols, and norms. Many of those are extremely effective, not only while at leading but also while at following. Many of them have shown and demonstrated honorability. Yes, they do have objections when they see something wrong and they make a timely observation, critic immediately. They are never “yes-men,” they respect authority highly because said authority is as qualified and within lawfulness and legitimacy.
For some people, myself included, it is almost impossible to take part in a cohesive team that is in the process of undertaking a gargantuan challenge.
Some people are extremely proud of different GOOD THINGS. If those thing allow the leader and follower (co-leader) to build a splendorous cathedral, What in Heaven’s is the problem?
Most of these people are over-accomplished and into over-accomplishing, making extremely nervous and anxious those citizens of the mediocrity-dom. That kingdom in which the subjects vehemently worship supine ignorance after having being to world-class academia and organizations.
Incidentally, a leader can be the ultimate acting and thinking machine. But the followers must be top-class too. Everything has become so stunningly treacherous, daring, and complex. Yes, a great leader can make a follower “make up” in a moment of weakness and emergency. But followers, as co-leaders, must be premium-graded people (mind, body, and soul). Some are born, some are made, but—the best ones—are those who have decided to self-discipline and purify themselves and eternally mortgage their own practical education. WHY?
Because no one is going to tender you the gift of applicable knowledge or effective wisdom by an act of magic (?). It is not a gift, it is an everyday conquest—that, by the way, is getting – every second – more and more demanding.
NOTE: All quotations not otherwise cited are from the interviews conducted by the author or personal communications sent to the author.