Thursday, February 17, 2011

Leadership Principles: The Iceberg

My wife and I were enjoying a quiet evening the other night watching "Titanic." An object so central to the story, but one that never gets much PR, is the iceberg that caused the ship to sink.

The iceberg can be a good illustration for a leadership principle, too.

It's expressed as a phrase:

The tip of the iceberg

What it means in scientific terms is that the bulk of the typical iceberg (from 80-90%) is below the surface of the water. The visible part is only about 10% or so.

What's visible is important - but what's below the surface is critical.

Just ask the captain of the Titanic.

In leadership terms, Dr. Tim Elmore expressed it this way:

10% of a leader's makeup is skill
90% of a leader's makeup is character

So much of a leader's influence comes from qualities we can't see - the stuff below the surface. Elmore goes on to say that character is the sum of:
  • Self-discipline - the ability to do what's right even if you don't feel like it
  • Core values - principles you live by that enable you to make a moral stand
  • Sense of identity - a realistic self-image based on who God made you to be
  • Emotional security - the capacity to be emotionally stable and consistent
The bad news about icebergs is that it's what's below the surface that sinks the ship. Weak character will eventually damage our ability to lead. The good news about icebergs is that it's what's below the surface that supports the visible tip of the iceberg. In the same way, strong character will hold you up long enough to use your skills.

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