Leadership is an Affair of the Heart

Leadership is an Affair of the Heart

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. John H. Stanford (September 14, 1938 – November 28, 1998)  grew up poor, failed sixth-grade but went on to graduate from Penn State University on an ROTC scholarship. He survived multiple military tours in both Korea and Vietnam and was highly decorated. The loyalty of his troops was extraordinary. Stanford headed up the Military Traffic Management Command for the U.S. Army during the Persian Gulf War.

When he retired from the Army he became county manager of Fulton County, Ga., when Atlanta was gearing up to host the 1996 Summer Olympics, and then he became superintendent of the Seattle Public Schools, where he sparked a revolution in public education.

When asked how he’d go about developing leaders, whether in colleges and universities, in the military, in government, in the nonprofit sector or in private business, he replied:

“When anyone asks me that question, I tell them I have the secret to success in life. The secret to success is to stay in love. Staying in love gives you the fire to ignite other people, to see inside other people, to have greater desire to get things done than other people. A person who is not in love doesn’t really feel the kind of excitement that helps them to get ahead and to lead others and to achieve. I don’t know any other fire, any other thing in life that is more exhilarating and is more positive a feeling than love is.”

Leadership is not an affair of the head. Leadership is an affair of the heart.

The Leadership Challenge authored by:
James M. Kouzes is Dean’s Executive Professor of Leadership, Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University.
Barry Z. Posner, Ph.D., is Dean of the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University.

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