Mod Note (Andy): This post is a reprint from the January 25th edition of Jared's Daily Dirtnap Newsletter. If you'd like to read more, WSO readers qualify for a $100 discount to his Daily Dirtnap daily market newsletter...just email firstname.lastname@example.org and mention "WSO Monkey Discount". You can follow Jared on twitter at @dailydirtnap..
I had to take a bunch of leadership classes at the Coast Guard Academy. It was unimaginably awful.
It's not a bad thing to learn leadership, that is, a) if you think leadership can even be taught and b) if you think it even matters in the first place. Good leaders come in all shapes and sizes, not all of them George Patton archetypes. Good leadership is impossible to define. But the search for it is like the search for the fountain of youth.
At school there was this Captain that everyone thought was a good leader. He used to call these impromptu assemblies and pontificate wildly, without notes, for about 45 minutes on high-sounding stuff that we really didn't understand. He had the commandingest of commanding voices. In oratory skills, he put Obama himself to shame.
Later, as an Admiral, he took the fall for one of the greatest Coast Guard failures ever, the acquisition project Deepwater. Giving speeches apparently has no bearing on complex negotiations with contractors.
Leadership, I suppose, you could define as the ability to get people to do what you want them to do. Which is pretty easy. You say, "do what I say, or watch your tail." You impose consequences if things go wrong. People fear consequences, so they do what you want. But that sort of thing is frowned upon.