As some of you know I’ve been conducting a leadership workshop in Jerusalem for the past few days. Teaching in the old city of Jerusalem with the village of Swilan as a backdrop, in the shadow of religion, politics, ideology, and mischief puts my training sessions in a humbling context That said, my workshops revolve around the theme of leadership and the act of getting things done. Specifically looking at leaders, good or bad, that have the capacity to get results.
In this context, I was thrown through a loop when a student yesterday raised the question of Obama’s recent Nobel Price win. He asked, “If leadership is about getting things done, then why did Obama get the award?”
Another student pointed out that Yassar Arafat, Shimon Peres, and Yitzhak Rabin collectively shared the prize in 1994 for getting things started, but not necessarily getting things finished. So, we’re forced to ask, isn’t leadership, as it’s implicitly defined by the Nobel Peace Prize committee, a slippery slope? Indeed maybe the question of “getting things done” as it relates to leadership should change to, “tries to get things done.”
The question is addressed wonderfully in this clever piece by Israeli writer and ex-politician, Yossi Sarid. He questions whether visionaries who never quite get things empirically done deserve an award at all. I suppose the question is, how do you define a visionary? Are they leaders?
Anyway, having no choice I’m going to back to my classroom to finish my seminar against the backdrop of the prophets, the visionaries, and the Nobel Peace Prize recipients.
[Picture: Reuters, September 23rd 2009]