Strategic Leadership

for Leaders in an Uncertain World

FT 11th Nov.2008 Leadership Lessons from 55 Years ago_Stephen Stern

Suddenly, history and leadership are being intimately linked.  Whether it is when refering to Barack Obama victory in US elections and looking for parallels with previous presidents or on BBC Radio 4 where Anthony Roberts explores the links between historians and leaders, military in the first program and political in the forthcoming one.

However, the best and simplest is the recent article by Stephen Stern in Financial Times Leadership Lessons from 55 Years ago. Here are a few quotes:

No wonder historians are worried about the disappearance of documentary evidence now that everything is being e-mailed and text-messaged. These typed pages, with all their blotches and imperfections, summoned up the past….

…I have rarely read such clear, purposeful and persuasive thoughts on leadership, delivered in only a few sentences.

Leadership is “the art of influencing a body of people to follow a certain course of action”, the notes state. “The art of controlling them, directing them and getting the best out of them.”…


The notes contain a special section on “man management”. Some of this stuff feels quite radical, a) for 1955 and b) for the army. See what you think: “The business of man management takes time and it requires the taking of infinite trouble … you cannot deal with material you know little or nothing about. Your men are your material; you must know all about them …You must give each one individual study and be prepared to make an individual approach to each. You must be something of a psychologist.”


November 15, 2008 Posted by | Leadership | , , , , , | Leave a comment