A Natural Impulse

Leadership has natural impulses. That’s something akin to an immutable law of physics–which used to be termed natural law–a physical reality not subject to alteration other than by an agent of equal immutability. Got it?

Enough of that, let’s move on to my point–I read something that struck me as a natural impulse of leadership.

I’m on the final section of a book about Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher and their relationship as leaders. The book flows more or less chronologically. The final section of the book covers 1987. This was the year Reagan was immersed in the Iran-Contra controversy, an issue of historic proportions for his presidency.

This was also the year that, under Reagan’s leadership, the US finalized a historic arms-reduction agreement with the Soviet Union. The agreement was one of Reagan’s major achievements while President.

There is a link between these two things, between the arms agreement and Iran-Contra and between the historic implications of both. And this is my point about a natural impulse of leadership.

When things go sour on a leader, he or she will respond in one of two ways. They will either be undone by the downward turn of events, or they will re-establish themselves as leaders.

The path ahead starts with handling the negative event. The leader will collapse if he or she is wrong or unable to carry on. If these instances are avoided, the leader will prove to be right about the event or will have found a second issue to tackle and, if capable enough, will find success and victory, progress and improvement.

Reagan illustrates the point. He fought off the Iran-Contra controversy by admitting a mistake of his own choosing–I didn’t keep involved enough. Then, he seized upon a potentially winnable issue–meaningful arms reduction with the Soviets–and saw it through to a successful conclusion. His impulse as a leader was to seek out a way to restore victory after defeat.

If you encounter a situation when you stumble or fail, your natural impulse will be to pursue success in a subsequent effort. And you may not have long to wait before such success is again within your reach.