In a recent CBS Sunday Morning interview, Fordham University President Joseph McShane, S.J. dispensed sage observations on the nature of leadership.
Over the last month, the nation has witnessed contrasting leadership styles, especially among the political class. Tedros Ghebreyesus, Donald Trump, Anthony Fauci, Andrew Cuomo, Ron DeSantis, and Gavin Newsom especially come to mind.
Seeing such contrasting styles makes one pause and wonder, What makes a great leader? Fortunately Ted Koppel asked exactly that of Father McShane.
Over the years, I have been to many seminars on leadership and have been exposed to a variety of “leadership coaches.” None have been as articulate as Father McShane.
Koppel: “What do you think are the most important elements of leadership?”
McShane (after a reflective pause): “That’s a tough question. I think you have to begin with self-knowledge. Number two, you have to know what your priorities are. Number three, you have to be wise enough to ask for advice. And four, you have to be humble enough to accept it.”
McShane continued: “And if you are able to do those, you’ll be a leader. A good leader? Maybe. A great leader? Possibly.”
Self-knowledge, wisdom, humility: if only all those leading our country and the world exemplified those attributes.
View the full interview along with those of retired four-star Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Dr. Penny Wheeler, the president and CEO of Allina Health:
Disclosure: Father McShane was my 9th grade English teacher and in 11th grade he designed an independent study for me that involved, among other challenges, reading Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamozov, a book that changed my life. He also presided over my marriage in June 1981. We have been lifelong friends.