Leadership Means Sitting Tall in the Saddle (WBF, Day 1)

john-wayne-cowboy-posterI’m part of the “Blogger’s Hub” covering the World Business Forum in New York City, and focus during the morning sessions was on Leadership.  Three well-known speakers, Bill George, Bill Conaty, and Patrick Lencioni, talked about Leadership in the context of crisis, performance, and effective team building.

Their presentations were all very good in their own right (Lencioni in particular was wonderful, and darn funny to boot), but there was a common theme in my mind that bound them together:

A Great Leader Needs to Sit Tall in the Saddle.

There’s so much more to this than “hitting the numbers”.  Just like John Wayne on his horse, leaders need to set the example for all to follow, by doing things like

  • Facing reality (George)
  • Not taking on the world alone  (George)
  • Making sure the team is prepared for the long haul (George)
  • Following your True North  (George)
  • Showing commitment (Conaty)
  • Demonstrating values (Conaty)
  • Always telling it like it is (Conaty)
  • Balancing passion and compassion (Conaty)
  • Over communicating (Lencioni)
  • Encouraging truth telling among your charges (Lencioni)
  • Promote and enjoy conflict (Lencioni)
  • Preach joint accountability (Lencioni)

It takes character, guts, resolve, and yes, even a little swagger to pull all this off.    It can’t be for the faint of heart.

These are the kind of things they don’t teach you at business school.   Each  speaker acknowledged their obviousness, but yet admitted their difficulty.

How can something that looks so simple on paper actually be so hard to just step up and do?

Because in reality, it’s hard.  Unless you can stand tall in that saddle.



  1. says

    Great post.

    Also, if I may add, standing tall requires a strong spine (character) and great spinal muscles (resilience), and of course a thoroughbred horse (fruit of past actions?).




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