Leadership Is a Gift Given by Those Who Follow

Grant McCracken (MIT Research Affiliate) wrote this post in this week’s HBR Blog Network on General Mark Welsh who addresses the US Air Force Academy.  It’s a 45 minute speech but HANG IN THERE UNTIL THE END.  Must-watch-TV for leaders.  Funny.  Inspiring.  Incredibly moving.  Best leadership video that I’ve had the good fortune to watch.

Here is General Mark Welsh, Commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe, speaking after lunch at the Air Force Academy a few days ago.  The video is 50 minutes long, but I encourage you to watch the whole thing. It may be the finest piece of public speaking you will hear this year. The general is everything we want a speaker to be —companionable, funny, illuminating, truth-telling, and spellbinding.  He’s also emotionally forthcoming. A new age warrior? Or have soldiers always talked like this? If General Welsh doesn’t move you to tears several times, it may be time to check with your cardiologist.  But this is more than public speaking. It is an act of leadership. The general goes beyond Hollywood heroism. He is brutally candid about war and completely unforgiving in what he demands of his audience. Does the senior manager still level with his or her audience in this way?

Welsh’s biggest theme? Leadership as an act of service. As the General says, “Leadership is a gift. It’s given by those who follow. You have to be worthy of it.”  Words for every leader to live by.

Source: HBR Blog Network – Leadership is a Gift By Those Who Follow


  1. That was a great speech. I have seen several military officers speak and it amazes me how well they do it. Better than most I have seen. Thanks for the video.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: