Leader or Philosopher What Makes Someone Both?
A colleague (a physician) shared a quote with a small group of us by the famous coach, Vince Lombardi. The quote was about excellence in teamwork, and the physician said, “Vince Lombardi was a coach and a philosopher.” His description struck me.
Coach Lombardi, like many great coaches and leaders, is widely quoted and looked upon as a wise person, not just in his field of expertise, but in life itself. While these great coaches and leaders may not be considered bona fide philosophers within the traditional field of philosophy, by lay people they are revered for their wisdom and philosophical acumen. In this article, I’d like to highlight and explore the idea of this natural fusion between leader and philosopher.
How might this impact you and I, that there seems to be natural overlap between great leaders and this depth of thought that I am referring to as “philosopher?” Is it a pre-requisite to effective leadership to also be a thoughtful philosopher?
Distinctions of Great Leaders
I believe great leaders have this predilection. Powerful leadership requires constant renewing of our spirit, character, and understanding of who we are, our tendencies, and that of the people around us. It requires understanding priorities, vision, and how to balance success with maximum impact. All of this requires tremendous wisdom.
As you are reading this you may be thinking about a successful business person who has “made it big” but definitely does not fit the mold of philosopher. He or she may be a crass, bottom line person, who does not care about much except for his or her own success. I’ve wondered about the effectiveness and depth of leaders like this myself. But these are not people I would consider great leaders. Great leaders tug on the hearts of men. They honor the human spirit while taking people and organizations forward and higher.
Examples Of Leader-Philosophers
If we are to be great leaders in our organizations, homes, and churches, we must apply these distinctions of wisdom and compassion as well. This isn’t just for famous or legendary leaders. We too can cultivate love and warmth for the people we lead. We can express the wisdom and insight we have gleaned in our journeys as leaders. To inspire us, I want to leave you with this:
Here is a link to Coach Vince Lombardi’s quotes. I invite you to read through them and let them affect you and encourage you.
I also urge you to listen to this video by the legendary Coach John Wooden. When I listened to it the first time, I made two observations. First, he doesn’t talk exclusively about basketball. And second, this guy is a wise philosopher.
You may ask, “How does someone like me grow in this area?” Simple. Read, think, listen to people smarter than you. Always learn. Apply what you learn.
I am convinced that great leaders continually dig deep and discover all they can about life and living, about people and relationships, about success and giving. They usually grow to model what I call leader-philosopher.
For Further Reading: