Leaders come in all manner of packages, and if you ask 12 people about the most essential qualities of a good leader, you might get 50 answers.

I undertook my first leadership position in the 5th grade, when I was asked to captain the patrols in my elementary school. Even then I made some mistakes, and in one case, a BIG mistake. (You can PM me if you want to know more about that!)

Over the next almost 50 years, I have almost constantly led one thing or another – from small teams of 10, to an organization of 100, to being on a leadership team that oversaw huge budgets and thousands of staff.

By taking on a blog about leadership, I want to be clear that these are my  thoughts, and that before implementing my methods you should make sure they fit your style. Still, I believe there will be principles in what I’m sharing that are universal, and I’ll try to highlight those.

I can’t remember when I first heard it, but there’s an old, oft quoted anecdote that I love. A father and his son entered the dean’s office at the university the younger man was to enter. The father told the dean that he wanted his son to graduate as quickly as possible so as to embark on his career. “How fast can we make it happen?”, he asked. The dean paused and said, “Sir, when God wants to make a squash, He takes three months. When He crafts an oak tree, He takes 100 years. Which would you like your son to be?”

I love that! What kind of leader would you like to be…a squash or an oak tree? We live in a culture where we glorify speed and expediency, with character and process often being overlooked. Time is an especially important ally for a leader. Be patient with yourself as you make mistakes, and do your best to learn from every one! (After all, mistakes are the tuition a leader pays to learn to be a better leader!)

And please feel free to comment or PM me on anything you read. I am still in learning mode, and I’m not yet the oak I’d like to be!

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