|A Few Notes on Leadership|
When I was first telling Jed Workman about the book Don Sharaf gave me, he laughed and laughed. (Jed has one of the great laughs in this world.) The book was The Captain Class, by Sam Walker. “Of course he loves that book,” he laughed; “Don is the captain.”
What I loved about The Captain Class is that Sam Walker effectively deconstructs the archetype of what a true leader looks and sounds like. The captain is not the uber-macho square-jaw orator that gives the fiery speech before the game; she is, in fact, something quite different altogether. And yet it’s clear – through Walker’s exhaustive research – these captains created and maintained a dynasty that kept their team on top for years.
What were some of these commonalities of leadership? They carried the water. They were willing to do thankless jobs in the shadows.They shunned the spotlight.They understood the nature of their teammates and could effectively communicate with them, often in non-verbal ways. The demonstrated strong convictions and the courage to stand apart.They often played through unbelievable physical and/or emotional difficulty.~~~~~~~~~
A few years into my tenure as a Jenny Lake ranger in the Tetons, we hired a climbing ranger who very much enjoyed playing the role of gadfly*. He was always thinking out of the box; questioning ideologies (because we’ve always done it this way); playing the role of devils’ advocate. But he had a way of doing so in a way that was disarming rather than confrontational.
And in a few years, he rose to the top and was promoted to be the lead ranger. Never before had I seen someone who – at that level – had become both the Fly andthe Ointment.
RS on the Tricky Traverse; East ridge of the Grand.*A gadfly is a person who interferes with the status quo of a society or community by posing novel, potentially upsetting questions, usually directed at authorities. The term is originally associated with the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates in his defense when on trial for his life.
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