• The American Scholar

LONELY LEADERSHIP


Excerpt from 'Solitude and Leadership', by

William Dereseiwicz

Delivered to the plebe (freshmen) class at the United States Military Academy at West Point in October 2009.

'We have a crisis of leadership in America because our overwhelming power and wealth, earned under earlier generations of leaders, made us complacent, and for too long we have been training leaders who only know how to keep the routine going:

'Who can answer questions, but don’t know how to ask them;

'Who can fulfill goals, but don’t know how to set them;

Who think about how to get things done, but not whether they’re worth doing in the first place;

'What we have now are the greatest technocrats the world has ever seen, people who have been trained to be incredibly good at one specific thing, but who have no interest in anything beyond their area of exper­tise.

'What we don’t have are leaders.

'What we don’t have, in other words, are thinkers. People who can think for themselves. People who can formulate a new direction: for the country, for a corporation or a college, for the Army—a new way of doing things, a new way of looking at things. People, in other words, with vision.'

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