Formal Leadership Instruction Provided As Part Of A Leadership Development Process 

Schooling is the first phase of the the Leadereship Development Process and is critical to the development of the Virtuous Leader.


Schooling Exists Along A Broad Continuum Of Quality And Intensity

Spending four years at West Point and reading Leadership For Dummies in one’s spare time are both examples of Schooling. Although they dwell at opposite ends of the quality/intensity continuum, they share the characteristic of the didactic dissemination of certain commonly held principles of what a Leader is and what he does.

Leadership Is Counterintuitive 

Schooling is critical because so much of what a Leader is and does is counterintuitive.

For example, it is our human nature to have full control over all of our efforts and to seek praise and avoid blame for the results they produce. A Leader, however, must be prepared to completely invert this formula. Because a Leader is a man who Influences other men to and through Movement, his IMPACT and the change he effectuates will largely be through the action of others. The more men he Influences and the more Movement he causes, the more IMPACTful the Leader is. Sometimes the results of a Leader’s Impact are successful and sometimes not, but what is always true is that the particular Outcome obtained is greatly dependent upon the actions taken by a Leader’s followers in response to his Influence, much of which is outside of his direct control.

If a Leader’s Influence results in a positive Outcome the Q cannot bask in the ensuing praise, but must pass it on in full measure to his Team regardless of how little he thinks they did (in comparison to him) to pull it off. Likewise, the Leader must fully accept the entire blame in the face of a negative Outcome, regardless of whose actual fault it was. Success belongs to the Team but Failure is the Q’s alone to bear.

This pass praise/take blame formula is contrary to human nature and therefore very difficult to apply under stress. But it is absolutely critical to what a Virtuous Leader is and what he does. Even though it is the nature of every man to retain praise and pass blame, no man will follow another man who tries to Lead that way.

My Schooling in pass praise/take blame formula as an ROTC cadet in college. It was delivered to me in a classroom from a sergeant who wrote it on the chalkboard in big letters: PASS THE PRAISE AND TAKE THE BLAME. I was retaught the same principle again (and again) at the several Leadership schools the Army sent me to during the nine years I was on active duty. The men who instructed me on this principle also told me why its application was critical and how it was likely that I would initially and repeatedly fail to apply it properly when confronted with the opportunity to do so, until the one day when I wouldn’t. And then I never would again. And, at least for me, that turned out to be so. I got it wrong (a lot) until I got it right, and then I never got it wrong again.

I suppose because anything is possible that I could have learned pass praise/take blame without Schooling, but I doubt I would have. To do it wrong (as I often and initially did) and learn anything from the experience, it had to be first be instilled as a Virtue in my mind. To know how to do it right, I had to first be taught what right was. And Schooling is the best place for that.

The development of the Leadership Foundation begins with the Virtues learned through Schooling.

Leave a Reply