Learning From Historical Moments

I’m currently reading through the historical documentation of the founding members of a global moment. The message and the movement have passed the test of time which means for you and me this is a potential gold mine of leadership wisdom and perspective.

This is what I have unearthed:

1. Leaders need to lead, not just coach and accommodate the team. There is a fine line between being a directional leader and/or an accommodating, collaborating leader. Find the balance for your unique situation. I suggest analyzing your situation and finding the healthy mix of both listening and directing.

2. Conflict is inevitable. Get used to it. Some of us have the magical notion that world class movements or organizations somehow transcend common human conflict. This is not true. Conflict over the petty, the marginal misunderstandings and the doctrinal foundations are a common occurrence in world class movements. Do you have the mindset and tools needed to navigate conflict?

3. Culture and ideology are always in the mix. If we think our organization can build pure ideology without a culture bias or the other way around, a pure culture without the political influence of ideology we are sadly misguided. Culture and ideology are always in the mix. The key is building a communication competency where these ongoing dynamics are openly talked through. Pretending that your movement or organization is somehow unbiased and non-cultural or non-ideological closes down healthy communication.

4. Innovation and novel thinking will trigger followers and haters. The saying “that it is impossible to please everyone” is magnified when founders are passionately elevating new ideas. For founders and those who follow in their footsteps it is prudent to pause and count the cost before signing on for the ride. Martyrdom is not an uncommon theme in some of the most powerful movements in our recorded history. Thinking through your unique situation is critical. Are you part of a cause or a job? Causes may be worth dying for. Most jobs are not.

5. The power of TEAM. World class movements or organizations may begin with a founder or founders but their long term, slow burn growth is dependent on the engagement of the team. Team functionality usually includes chain of command and an organizational hierarchy just to be able to nominally function. Structure is not a compromise for the free flow of innovation but rather the framework for success. For the movement to thrive and grow the structure will need to support both individual engagement and a commitment to the team.

6. Finally, world class movements and organizations require worthy vision, mission and metrics. Any slight of hand, deceptive motives or corrupted outcomes have a way of sidelining momentum. World class momentum has a purity to it that captures the human imagination, recruits and retains loyalty with ease and can build legacy from generation to generation. If you take the time to purify your vision, mission and metrics you stand the chance of building towards a world class target.


Whether operating in a job or a cause I encourage you from time to time to check your own thoughts and actions against the records of historical movements.

Steven Falk

P.S. Don’t forget, People Can Change and The Power of Success is in TEAM

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