Leadership Part 5

“True leadership is not found in those that point the way, but is found in those who physically lead for others to follow…” — Rick Cox

Part 5

Being a leader is not without its downside for the accolades and praise one may garner is seldom enough to assuage the loneliness felt by those in front. Leadership is just what it says – leading the way for others to follow therefore, being in a position of leadership is more often than not a very lonely place. This is because you are not regularly hanging out with those that follow. If you were you would not be leading. The leader also does not hang back and point for if they did they would not be providing good leadership.”

This is a precarious place for the leader as it requires the leader respond properly to the feelings and events, which are common to all leaders. An improper response at the wrong time may cause the leader to get off track thereby, leading the followers down the wrong path. An improper response can also cause one to abandon the challenge of leadership altogether leaving the followers disillusioned. In this case the leader may feel the price of leadership is higher than they are willing to pay.

Although the cost of Leadership can be significant, it is worth price one may have to pay. This is best illustrated in something written for Cadillac in 1915 called, “The Penalty of Leadership.” While working on some new buildings for a Cadillac dealership many years ago I noticed a plaque in the General Manager’s office called, The Penalty of Leadership. For something written that one might expect to be short and sweet, this was not. I did however; take the time to read what was written. I read it over and over, at least six times. During the last reading, I was weeping when the GM entered his office. I tried to cover up my emotion, but he noticed. I explained I had been reading The Penalty of Leadership and the words of truth were obviously affecting me. Being in his late sixties, thirty years older than me at the time, he said very few had been as emotionally moved by those words as that which he saw in me. Seeing an opportunity, I asked him if he would mind if I made a copy of the plaque so I could take it to my printer/lithographer to have it printed on fancy paper; first for me to hang it on my wall and second to give to others I knew in positions of leadership. I told him I would not alter the fact it was written for Cadillac. I also said I would bring him a completed copy. To my delight, he agreed.

I have since given out nearly two hundred copies to friends holding positions of leadership. It spells out why leaders are attacked and misunderstood. I trust it speaks to you as much as it did me. I suggest you read it over and over. I then suggest you use it whenever for a needed boost. A reminder, if you will, of why you are doing what you are doing…

Here it is in its entirety:


In every field of human endeavor, he that is first must perpetually live in the white light of publicity. Whether the leadership be vested in a man or in a manufactured product, emulation and envy are ever at work. In art, in literature, in music, in industry, the reward and the punishment are always the same.

The reward is widespread recognition; the punishment, fierce denial and detraction. When a man’s work becomes a standard for the whole world, it also becomes a target for the shafts of the envious few. If his work be mediocre, he will be left severely alone – if he achieves a masterpiece, it will set a million tongues a-wagging. Jealousy does not protrude its forked tongue at the artist who produces a commonplace painting.

Whatsoever you write, or paint, or play, or sing, or build, no one will strive to surpass or to slander you unless your work be stamped with the seal of genius. Long, long after a great work or a good work has been done, those who are disappointed or envious, continue to cry out that it cannot be done. Spiteful little voices in the domain of art were raised against our own Whistler as a mountback, long after the big world had acclaimed him its greatest artistic genius. Multitudes flocked to Bayreuth to worship at the musical shrine of Wagner, while the little group of those whom he had dethroned and displaced argued angrily that he was no musician at all.

The little world continued to protest that Fulton could never build a steamboat, while the big world flocked to the river banks to see his boat steam by. The leader is assailed because he is a leader, and the effort to equal him is merely added proof of that leadership. Failing to equal or to excel, the follower seeks to depreciate and to destroy – but only confirms once more the superiority of that which he strives to supplant. There is nothing new in this. It is as old as the world and as old as human passions – envy, fear, greed, ambition, and the desire to surpass. And it all avails nothing. If the leader truly leads, he remains – the leader. Master-poet, master-painter, master-workman, each in his turn is assailed, and each holds his laurels through the ages. That which is good or great makes itself known, no matter how loud the clamor of denial. That which deserves to live – lives.

Make sure your leadership deserves to live…

Best of LUCK as you
Labor Under Correct Knowledge…


Rick Cox