Throughout time, leaders who have exhibited the proper kind of custodianship—leaders who have sought service over self-interest—have been held in high regard. We gladly look to them for direction and guidance in times of indecision, turmoil and trouble.
One such custodian stood out in the Fifth century BC. The Roman army was surrounded. The country was in need of a leader who would seize the moment and turn the situation defeat into victory. They called upon a man who was out plowing his field: a farmer. He came. He saw. He conquered. He went home. Cincinnatus gained fame for his selfless devotion to his country. This half-legendary hero of the Roman Republic gave his all in a time of crisis and then gave up the reins of power when the task was done and went back to his plow.
In more modern times, America’s first President, George Washington, considered “the Father of his Country,” provides a paramount example of this same kind of custodial leadership that Lippmann espoused.
Washington was an aristocratic gentleman farmer of distinctive character. When called upon to defend the interests of a fledgling nation as Commander-in-Chief of the Revolutionary Army during the American War of Independence, he rose to the challenge and persevered against all odds. Then, after eight and a half years of being the most powerful man in America, he resigned his commission and returned to his agricultural pursuits.
Not surprisingly, he became the reluctant, yet automatic and unanimous choice for the first president of the United States. He served two terms. His final and perhaps greatest act of service to his country was that like Cincinnatus, who he had often been compared to by his contemporaries; he stopped serving and retired back to his Mount Vernon estate in Virginia.
Washington is remembered for his strength of character and discipline, his loyal patriotism, his principled leadership and selfless devotion to public duty. He held in trust for the American people the very values and beliefs that made their nation possible without regard for his own gain.
In reality, true leadership is and has always been a selfless action. It involves taking yourself out of the picture and considering the needs of others. It is a way of thinking that takes other people into account even when your own needs are pressing. It asks what is right or best in the wider interest. Few would doubt the need for more leaders like Cincinnatus and George Washington today. Leaders who will complete the job they were asked to do without regard for themselves; leaders who will lead and not merely register the popular will of the people. Yet it would be difficult to build a consensus as to how a leader might do that; how a leader might be a custodian of or hold in trust a nation’s or a groups values and beliefs.
How might we answer this question in a world that has seemingly grown unmanageable? Today our world is faced with serious, even life-threatening problems of a global nature. Where will we find the wisdom necessary that might be applied to modern civilization’s most pressing dilemmas?
Information Measurement Theory (IMT) tells us that a type A person is selfless and helps others. To be a great leader you have to put others before yourself. The article above mentions that George Washington was a great leader because he was selfless and when he was done serving as a president for two terms he returned back to what he loved, his farm land in Virginia. IMT also tells us that if you love what you do and you’re passionate about it you will be successful and be happy in life, just like George Washington did when he took on the role of a great leader and resigned to go back to his happy life in agriculture. When I was a supervisor for the company I know work for, I was a good leader that would do anything to help out my team members. I would help them fill out applications for other positions what would pay them more, which would end up leaving my team but I was encouraging if that’s what they wanted to pursue.