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Keys to leadership: Purpose, faith and trust

By David Oldfather, Affiliated Distributors

I recently had the pleasure of giving a presentation to http://bit.ly/HRQvIC”>The Reynolds Company’s leadership team, and one of the topics I was asked to address was what I looked for in leaders. As nearly all of my friends and acquaintances know, I have a penchant for answering questions by telling stories. True to form, this topic recalled to mind a wonderful story that Steven Pressfield told about Alcibiades in his book, http://amzn.to/HHyNbE”>Tides of War. It went roughly like this:

Near the end of his career, Alcibiades, a 5th century B.C. Athenian Statesman and General, was asked by one of his officers how it was that, over the course of his long career, he had managed to win every battle he had ever engaged in. His reply, I think is very instructive.

What you are really asking me, he said, is how I managed to select my officers, for it is they, not I, who prevailed in battle. I learned this skill when I was a stable boy many years ago through the close observation of horses. When buying a horse, I learned to remark carriage and posture above length of bone and power of ham, for it was that which was inward in a horse that determined his ability to work under duress and to continue to race when he was spent. In short, I looked for what I shall call a nobility of soul.

How then have my officers, in their turn, learned to lead free men: only in this way, to summon each man to his nobility. For how can a group of individuals ever learn to maneuver as one without a common sense of purpose, faith in their officers, and trust in and amongst themselves? These traits do not come from length of bone and strength of ham.

As AD Affiliates, we are not engaged in battle, nor are we fighting for our lives. But we are all members of a larger group, first of all of our families and communities, and then perhaps of our businesses and industry. It is probably good to remember that we are always members of a group larger than ourselves.

I believe that it is our leadership’s responsibility to continually work toward creating an environment which fosters a common sense of purpose, faith in its leaders, and trust in and amongst ourselves. This, perhaps more than anything else, has helped us firmly establish ourselves as the pre-eminent marketing group in the industry.

David R. Oldfather
President, Electrical Divisions

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