While I know where I want this post to end up, I don’t know exactly how I want to get there yet. Like George Taylor, I have felt for a long time that I was vastly out of my element. Not that I see those around me as apes. But I have felt all my life (well, since I was nine or ten, so eighty percent of my life) like everyone around me were either truly better than me (but that didn’t seem true) or at least they felt for some reason like they were better, and I needed to be put in my place. All my life I’ve wanted to cry out “Get your hands off me, you damned, dirty ape!” But the fetters society shackles me with are manacles of the mind.
I can hear my audience now. “Enough monkey shines! Get on with it!”
This will be my last post about William Wallace. I’m going to write about how he fulfilled the last of the five habits of leadership from The Leadership Challenge. William Wallace enabled others to act. There are three examples from the film.
- 1) William Wallace doesn’t micromanage. If you want to claim to be an Irish king, so long as you kill English, you can be his guest.
- 2) William Wallace is humble enough to listen. When the Princess Isabella warns him of an assassination attempt, rather than scorning “a woman’s testimony.”
- 3) At the risk of sounding like a broken record: he taught Robert the Bruce how to be a king.
One of the big banes of modern management is micromanagement. We want every single painful step documented. We want to be sure that not only are you aiming for the same goal we are, we will brook no difference in method. “Smile while you are on the phone call. Don’t mention that the systems are running slow. There is only one right way to do things: our way. We want you scanning in and out of the stores, logging onto the computer exactly at the time we say. We want hourly updates. Make that updates every twenty minutes.” You end up spending more time on the paperwork than you do on the job.
William Wallace did none of these things. He didn’t ask for more flair. Didn’t complain if you lifted your kilt at the wrong time, didn’t argue about your choice of weapons or disqualify you because you were insane. “It’s my island.” All he asked was for you to fight at his side and believe in the possibility that Scotland would one day be free.
Unlike George V, William Wallace listened to his people. He might not do exactly as they advised, but he truly listened to what they had to say. Longshanks felt Princess Isabella was a foolish young girl with no brains, but Wallace felt she was intelligent, strong, brave and kind. He listened to her when she warned him about the assassins sent to kill him. He listened when they warned him he was going to be betrayed, but he still met with Robert the Bruce. While his men were right about what was about to happen, Wallace was actually right about the strength and nobility abiding in the Bruce. Robert the Bruce father would not listen, but William would. They debated, but it was the debate of brothers. Of two men intent on a righteous cause. William Wallace gave respect, and received it in return.
The proof, they say, is in the pudding. Even if you doubt my reasoning, it is historical fact that it was Robert the Bruce, and not William Wallace, who won the Scots their liberty. But it was Wallace who bore the greatest pain between the two. This is often the case. At least in this story, the one who took up the mantel was worthy of it. All too often Lincoln’s and Kennedy’s are replaced by a Johnson. I’ll never forget, at the end of The Lord of the Rings, Frodo speaking to Sam:
But I have been too deeply hurt, Sam. I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me. It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: someone has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them.
I have really enjoyed this series on leadership via Wallace. Thank you for sharing it with us!
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Thank you very much. I thought about trying to do the same about Cleopatra, but I got sidetracked by the battle of the sexes
I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I hope you enjoy the next series as much