It was announced today that Frances Hesselbein, founder of the Hesselbein Leadership Institute, has been named the Class of 1951 Chair for the Study of Leadership at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. She is the first woman and only the second non-military person to hold that distinguished position.
Why is this announcement relevant to business owners, entrepreneurs, sales professionals and business development professionals?
- First, Frances Hesselbein spent years at the Peter Drucker Institute, helping to translate Drucker’s business principles into leadership strategies for nonprofit and public organizations. I believe that leadership lessons for your company are best derived from lessons learned in each economic sector–from the private sector we learn best about markets and competition, from the public sector we learn best about national interests and service, and from the nonprofit sector we learn best about social responsibility. The better we can become at aligning these lessons, the more powerful and successful we will be as leaders in every sector.
- Second, it is very good to see the US Armed Forces continuing on their path to a broader definition of “leadership” — one that goes beyond military strategy to embrace a deep understanding of language, culture, and place as key elements in a military engagement. Increasingly, these are key elements of a business engagement in the global economy. We should expect lessons learned from this alliance that will enlighten business leaders in new ways.
- Finally, I am pleased to see Frances Hesselbein recognized in this way for her phenomenal career’s work. Formerly head of the Girl Scouts of America, she has been a beacon for leadership education that embraces women and girls yet is not exclusive to women and girls. She is a powerful role model for women business owners and entrepreneurs, demonstrating that collaborative, team-based strategies have their own source of power and can supersede top-down directive strategies.
As the economic culture continues its transformation from a primarily competitive culture to one in which collaboration–even among competitors–is more important to thriving, Hesselbein will be a good leader to watch.