Missing the point about Capt. Phillips and leadership

While I was in Virginia last week, I saw this interesting piece “When to Take a Bullet” in The Washington Post (here). The WP had solicited comments from leadership experts and started the conversation with this intro:

As the heroic captain Richard Phillips reminded us when he offered himself instead of his crew to the pirates, sea captains, like all good leaders, are expected to sacrifice themselves and their personal interests to protect those under their command.

The first response by Bob Schoultz made a great point about extended loyalty — to family, friends, and community — and how Capt. Phillips’ act showed solidarity and commitment to them. The second commenter — Elizabeth Sherman — used the incident to highlight another hero: religious freedom icon Anne Hutchinson. That was OK, though if the commenter had been most interested in promoting a female hero then perhaps Wangari Maathai might have been more on point (still alive, East African, and featured in the WP just the day before).

However, the last response took a gratuitously provocative tack. I’m not sure why Marty Linsky felt the need to oppose –at least implicity — Capt. Phillips vs. Anwar Sadat. I’ll grant Sadat wisdom and bravery in changing course. Lord knows, it is hard enough for me to admit I’m wrong about anything.

But why say that what Capt. Phillips did was “not exercising leadership at all” because that was what he was supposed to do? Let’s be clear: Sadat had been on a very different course only a few years before. The Yom Kippur War wasn’t exactly a constructive way to build a new route to Jerusalem.

Seeking peace after nearly seeing your armed forces destroyed made sense, but wasn’t that exactly what Sadat was supposed to do?

PM Quote of the Day — Chinese Fortune Cookie

Be bold, brave, and forthright and the bold, the brave, and the forthright will gather round you.

PM Quote of the Day — Mary Anne Radmacher

Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.” 

I have no idea who this woman is and what she’s about, but it struck me as a damned good quote. 

Projects aren’t done in a day, so it is inevitable that some of those days go by with little to show for it but frustration and conflict.  I know there have been many times when I’ve been tempted to blow off a project. 

In fact, I did quit once in a fit of pique and justifiable anger.  I’ve always regretted that lapse, because quitting was the easier, softer way out of the situation.  The brave thing to do would have been to calm myself down and prepared myself to try again tomorrow.

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