Volume 5, Issue 3

March 2016

Blue Ridge Conference

Save the Date:

October 5 - 7, 2016

Blue Ridge Conference on Leadership

Black Mountain, NC

Leadership Is an Art

            Looking back over the history of our Nation, one can find volumes of studies, treaties, and works addressing the subject of leadership.  These volumes, no doubt, look at leadership in every aspect of our society.  This includes great leaders in our military, great CEO’s, outstanding leaders in education, and magnificent leaders who have led our great country.

            When we look at these works on leadership, there should be a common definition as to what we feel leadership really is.  Some would say that leadership is a science.  Others may say leaders are born and not made.  However, I believe that there is a general consensus in “the field” that leadership is, indeed, an art.  Given this, we can agree that leaders are made and not born.

            In the military, there is an accepted definition that leadership is the art of influencing others to accomplish a mission by providing purpose, direction and motivation.  Inherent in this definition are the two central issues of mission accomplishment and caring for people. Of course, purpose gives the reason why.  Direction suggests the how to, and motivation instills the inspiration, enthusiasm, and the sincere desire for success.

            Although leadership is not always an easy subject to explain, great leaders are easily identifiable through the leadership traits they demonstrate through their actions.  These include honesty, hard work, positive attitude, courage, self-discipline, self-improvement, and compassion, as a few examples.

            The beauty about being a leader is that every day one has the opportunity to hone ones leadership skills and to develop leaders at the same time.  Dr. John Maxwell suggests that leaders will be successful if they master four areas: Relationships, Equipping, Attitude, and Leadership.  Max DePree says, “The art of leadership requires us to think about the leader-as-steward in terms of relationships: of assets and legacy, of momentum and effectiveness, of civility and values.”  Robert Greenleaf, in his book, “Servant Leadership,” also addresses this idea of leader-as-servant quite well.

            In our quest to develop leaders in our organizations, there has to be some basic understanding of leadership styles, leadership principles, leadership traits, and the fact that the leader is responsible for everything the organizations does or fails to do.  There is a saying that “the speed of the boss is the speed of the crew.” 

Know that in your role as a leader, you are three people. (1) Who you think you are, (2) Who others think you are, and (3) Who you really are.  Hopefully, in the process of developing, the three become one. Realize, if that this is not the case, your subordinates will be the first to recognize the flaw.  Your goal, always, is to be that example you want them to be.

Also, as a leader, you inherit authority and responsibility. You can delegate the authority you have inherited, but not the responsibility.  Responsibility belongs to you alone.  Treat it as a prize possession.

Finally, as you understand that leadership is an art, you are on the right course to continue to develop your leadership skills, to identify, develop and train future leaders and to make your organization the best it can be.  Failure will not be an option.  Truly, Leadership is an Art. 

~Colonel, US Army (Retired) John Holley 


The contributor to March's newsletter is John Holley

Board Member, Blue Ridge Conference on Leadership





A quick reminder:
  1. Please like us on Facebook at:

©2011 / 2012 / 2013 Blue Ridge Leadership Conference. All Right Reserved.