The Ultimate Measure of Leadership (part 1 of 6)

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy”.  Martin Luther King, Jr.


In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. and other great leaders, I am going to focus my blog posts on various aspects of leadership for the next two weeks.  Please watch my next six (6) posts for examples of various individuals (famous and not so famous) that hopefully will engage thoughts and dialogue on the values of true leadership.

Leadership is not just a title but a responsibility that I believe should be held as a sacred trust…

My definition of Leadership:

Lives values

Empowers others

Asks for feedback, ideas and comments

Directs the course

Effectively Communicates


I was listening to the CBS Sunday Morning show yesterday which focused on leadership spurred on by a few noteworthy events occurring this week:  Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and the second-term inauguration of President Obama.

I was jotting down some notes as I listened to the show and four words really popped for me as I wrote them down: Courage, Integrity, Patience, and Determination. I started thinking of my own leadership and how often I have (or have not) displayed those values within my organization and my personal life. I  can honestly say that three of those four values are part of my everyday framework, however, Patience is probably not one of my highest virtues and never has been.

I have decided that Patience will be my “value of the week” I am going to keep this value up front and center in my mind’s eye as I consciously work in increasing my patience with people I work with, at home with my family, and last but not least, with myself.

Will I fail sometime this week?  Most likely.

I do believe, however, that conscious effort will improve my overall patience-meter. If I fail, I am pretty sure that I will catch myself pretty darn quick! Oh, by the way, did I just mention that I need to be more patient with myself…?

Back to the show I was watching yesterday morning:  The person being interviewed was talking about leaders who appeared quite “ordinary” (in his terms) but who definitely made their mark in history.  He spoke of Gerald Ford, who was a bit “ordinary” but made the brave decision to pardon Nixon – to heal the country…

Wow, that is a pretty powerful way to view what President Ford did at that time isn’t it? Within that context,  President Ford displayed the ultimate measure of leadership… using courage and quiet determination to do what is believed to be needed for the greater good.

What do you believe are the top values great leaders live by?


3 thoughts on “The Ultimate Measure of Leadership (part 1 of 6)

    1. Thanks for the comment stoshdwalsh. Love…so true, hadn’t thought about that. I wonder how many leaders would use the term “love” as one of their leadership strengths or is that a term that makes people uncomfortable (especially when talking about a work setting)? Leading is all about caring for others and you’re right – leadership is having the courage to demonstrate that deep sense of caring and relationship (Love). What is the difference between a value and a quality in your view? I think I need to ponder on that a bit…values are what we hold and qualities are who we are? I think you are on to something…

      1. Hi Pat,
        I think most people think of leadership in terms of the demands it requires: vision, relationship, etc. Too many of those same people, though, would advocate for some kind of professional distance between leaders and their followers, which, in my estimation, is poor advice. As an aside, this is one of the reasons why our military consistently produces some of our finest leaders–they have a chain of command, but they care about each other, and, when the chips are really down, yes, they love each other.

        I think qualities are things we can measure: talents, skills… while our values guide us: principles, non-negotiables. The two are no doubt related, and the more symbiotic the relationship between them, the better the leader, I’d hypothesize. Hence the courage to love, as those things would be strange bedfellows in many worlds, yet the very best leaders find a way to wield both well, even simultaneously.

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