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Leader Resource 1: Metaphors for Leadership

Cut along the dotted lines to give each small group a metaphor to explore.

The only thing that endures over time is the law of the farm: I must prepare the ground, put in the seed, cultivate it, weed it, water it, and then gradually nurture growth and development to full maturity.

Stephen R. Covey, contemporary author and consultant, from Principle-Centered Leadership.

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In regard to the practice of leadership, one of the most potent features of thinking like an artist is that the artist necessarily works in a profoundly interdependent relationship with the medium- paint, stone, clay, a musical instrument, an orchestra, a tennis court, a slalom run, or food... A potter, for example, must learn that clay has its own life, its own potential and limits, its own integrity. The potter develops a relationship with the clay, spending time with it, learning to know its properties, how it will interact with water, discovering that if you work it too hard, it will collapse, and if you work with it, it will teach you its strength, your limits, and the possibilities of co-creation.

Sharon Daloz Parks, contemporary educator and author, from Leadership Can Be Taught.

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If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery, French writer (1900-1944), from "The Wisdom of the Sands."

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The servant-leader is servant first... It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions... The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.

The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people's highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?

Robert K. Greenleaf, twentieth-century researcher, author and educator, from "The Servant as Leader."

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Any jazz musician is good at experiencing moments of doubt and confusion- moments of, "Wait a second, this guy just threw me a phrase, and I don't know what to do with it, and I'm just going to play with it until I figure out something to do, or I'm going to let somebody else catch the ball until I come up with something." There's always these moments of doubt, action, doubt, action, what's the next action? It's part of an adventure, and what adventure doesn't have uncertainty and doubt in it? Adaptive leadership asks for that capacity to move from doubt to action and back to doubt again and again.

Ronald A. Heifetz, contemporary educator and author, interviewed by Sharon Daloz Parks.

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Last updated on Saturday, October 29, 2011.

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