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This page contains all of the posts and discussion on MemeStreams referencing the following web page: Solitude and Leadership. You can find discussions on MemeStreams as you surf the web, even if you aren't a MemeStreams member, using the Threads Bookmarklet.

Solitude and Leadership
by noteworthy at 7:56 am EST, Mar 9, 2010

William Deresiewicz:

When we look around at the American elite, the people in charge of government, business, academia, and all our other major institutions -- senators, judges, CEOs, college presidents, and so forth -- we find that they come overwhelmingly either from the Ivy League and its peer institutions or from the service academies, especially West Point.

So I began to wonder, as I taught at Yale, what leadership really consists of.

What I saw around me were great kids who had been trained to be world-class hoop jumpers.

Why is it so often that the best people are stuck in the middle and the people who are running things -- the leaders -- are the mediocrities? Because excellence isn't usually what gets you up the greasy pole. What gets you up is a talent for maneuvering.

We have a crisis of leadership in this country, in every institution. Not just in government.

For too long we have been training leaders who only know how to keep the routine going. Who can answer questions, but don't know how to ask them. Who can fulfill goals, but don't know how to set them. Who think about how to get things done, but not whether they're worth doing in the first place. What we have now are the greatest technocrats the world has ever seen, people who have been trained to be incredibly good at one specific thing, but who have no interest in anything beyond their area of expertise. What we don't have are leaders.


Life is too short to spend 2300 hours a year working on someone else's idea of what the right problems are.

It's important to understand that it isn't Congress that must change -- it is us.

Paul Graham:

It will always suck to work for large organizations, and the larger the organization, the more it will suck.

George Friedman:

That is what happened at the CIA: A culture of process destroyed a culture of excellence.

Richard Sennett:

From an executive perspective, the most desirable employees may no longer necessarily be those with proven ability and judgment, but those who can be counted on to follow orders and be good "team players."

Roger Cohen:

Being "always on" is being always off, to something.

Winifred Gallagher:

You can't be happy all the time, but you can pretty much focus all the time. That's about as good as it gets.

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