How great leaders manage in times of adversity

Mark wrote about Peter Drucker's traits of effective leadership the other day and I've just starting reading The Essential Drucker – a must read for us psych majors helping to run a business and managing people (wink). Our HR Community also has lots of information about leadership development. (Phew, I passed the Good Manager Quiz.)

How great business leaders manage in times of adversity – such as the current fluctuating economies – and how they persevere and learn from experience to improvement their management skills and keep their organizations thriving – are also key traits of an effective leader.

I say this because early this morning I finished 1776 by David McCullough, and while it was an excellent account of the birth of our nation, it was truly a testament to the leadership of George Washington.

According to McCullough:

He was not a brilliant strategist or tactician, not a gifted orator, not an intellectual. At several crucial moments he had shown marked indecisiveness. He had made serious mistakes in judgment. But experience had been his great teacher from boyhood, and in this his greatest test, he learned steadily from experience. Above all, Washington never forgot what was at stake and he never gave up.

Abigail Adams (wife of John Adams for those keeping score at home) wrote to a friend that "I am apt to think that our later misfortunes have called out the hidden excellencies of our commander-in-chief. 'Affliction is the good man's shining time.'" (She quoted English poet Edward Young.)

I'm bringing this all up because today we honor those lost on 9/11 and what a great nation we live in, but many of us don't recall from our grade school history what a close call it was for our fledgling democracy during the revolution.

Soon after we had some early victories late in 1776, a British Colonel had written that "the Americans had shown themselves capable of great cunning, great industry, and spirit of enterprise."

I do hope that we as business leaders and everyone in the human resources community can continue that sentiment no matter who's running the country.

Post by Kevin Grossman

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