<< WHAT IS LEADERSHIP?
Leadership is a funny word. You seem to only care about the issue of leadership when there are problems with an organization no matter how large or small. When things are good, there are no problems with leadership. I'd like to think about the positive aspects of the word instead of the often negative context, and discuss a couple of the ways that I have admired leaders.You can be the leader of a field, and lead with a unique kind of dignity. I saw this quality in the eponymous designers Ikko Tanaka and Paul Rand. I saw it in Tanaka in the way that he took care of his design staff. He had a 10-year policy when it came to students. He would not allow any design assistant to stay with him for more than 10-years as a way to ensure that he would build careers, instead of destroy them as is the usual custom. Rand was also a unique soul. When I first visited him at his studio many years ago, I came in a cab. That day I helped him finish the mechanicals for his last book From Lascaux To Brooklyn because his assistant had called in sick. When it came time to catch my train I asked if I could borrow his phone to call a cab. He told me, "You gave me something, now I must give you something back." And he gave me a ride to the train station, which I must admit I was a bit nervous having an 81-year old person drive me ... but I was certainly grateful and respected his gesture of gratitude. There was mutual gratitude there.You can be the leader of a company, and have the respect of all that work with you. I was recently in Mexico City visiting the President of Samsung Electronics Mexico. We were having a quiet dinner together with two of his colleagues, and perhaps because of one of the following: 1) the high altitude, 2) the fact that I had arrived that day by plane, and 3) had done some extensive speaking and walking earlier ... I blacked out and was on the floor. Mind you, this is not how I usually treat my dinner host. But the one thing that I took away from the experience, is how Mr. Paek and his colleagues cared for me with no panic, no embarrassment, and all good heart in getting me revived and eventually back on my feet. He immediately took me back to my hotel, and on the way told some truly moving stories of how he kept in touch with his college-age children on a daily basis in spite of his very busy schedule. The fact that he is still "cool" to his children certainly made him cool to me. He never faltered once in his care of me. I only hope that I can do so well with a situation like that in the future.Hooray for leaders that give us examples to aspire for! May they continue to lead!