Just learned today of the passing of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. What a sad day for Britain and the rest of the world. She was a galvanizing personality who took a stand for what she believed was right in leading her country. And while there will be many who will mourn her passing, including her family and friends, I am certain that are also quite a few doing the dance of joy. All great leaders have that common quality, they are passionate about they believe in. Willing to take a stand for those beliefs, regardless of who agrees or doesn’t agree with them.
I remember the first time I spoke at an ASSE (American Society of Safety Engineers) conference – over 10 years ago. I was walking with a colleague to the conference office, both wanting to review our evaluations from the previous day’s speech. To prepare me he asked if I felt I had taken a stand during the speech. My answer was an emphatic yes. My topic on Servant Leadership was one I strongly believed in. I had attempted to convey not only the concept of this leadership style, but my fervent belief that these were qualities all safety professionals should strive to achieve. It that was so he cautioned, be prepared for low scores on my evaluations. In his experience, if you are truly taking a stand for a topic or ideal you really believe in, the evaluations scores will be reflective. Meaning, some people will provide you with high marks for your topic and agree with you. And others will score you lower because they disagree with your stand. We are not talking about the mechanics of speech delivery, but rather the controversy that will result based on your taking a public stand.
Being a leader takes courage. It requires the strength of conviction to take a stand for what you believe in, and then to be brave enough to withstand the critique and dissension that follows. Thank goodness we have great leaders like Margaret Thatcher who set the standard for us. May we be worthy of their legacy.
For a brief overview on Margaret Thatcher, read Mr. Paul Johnson’s April 9, 2013 Op Ed article in the Wall Street Journal entitled, “The World Changing Margaret Thatcher”