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Commentary: Leadership: Thank you for your wisdom Charlie Brown!

I did something the other day I haven’t done in ages; I read the comics in the newspaper. Beyond the lighthearted chuckles, my one take away, very much like classic fairy tales, is that comics provide tremendous insight into our world, our culture, our relationships, and our inner selves. 
 
One of the most endearing and insightful comic strips is “Peanuts.” Lovable Charlie Brown possesses endless determination and hope, yet he struggles with his insecurities; the same of which can be said for most of us. After my literary exercise, I came to the realization there is a little bit of Charlie Brown and the “Peanuts” gang in 99 percent of the leaders I know. 
 
The wisdom of Peanuts is timeless, limitless, and profound.
 
Here are the six lessons in leadership that I learned from Charlie Brown and the gang:
 
Vision
Snoopy’s adventures, perched atop his doghouse sporting goggles and aviator attire, as the flying ace dueling with the Red Baron are a classic embodiment of vision. Great leaders have imagination and creativity who can envision what others label as “impossible.”
 
Character
Although Woodstock is mute, we always know his intentions. His actions speak volumes. Leaders project an atmosphere you can sense and feel without the need for words; their actions speak with clarity.
 
Persistence 
Charlie Brown always takes his opportunity to kick the football. He never lets previous failures deter him. Leaders will fail, often multiple times, but they take action whenever they encounter new opportunities for success, and persevere.
 
Communication
The adults in the world of Charlie Brown cannot be understood by readers. Adult voices are represented by the familiar “wah, wah, wah” sound in the television specials. To effectively lead one must be able to clearly and effectively communicate with a team for successful organizational development and growth. If not, communication is lost, and the team and organization suffers.
 
Acceptance
In the “Peanuts” gang, Linus and his security blanket are as welcome as Pigpen’s cloud of dust. There is no doubt, each character has his or her idiosyncrasies, yet they all belong. A leader accepts the individuals that comprise a team, understanding that the strengths and talents each member brings to the team makes it stronger and far outweigh any security blanket.
 
Confidence
Most people will not normally consider Charlie Brown to be a confident leader, yet he always manages to pull the group together in a crunch. He takes charge of the situation and gets his team through the calamity of the moment. Often, leaders are individuals willing to take responsibility for the team and organization in a crisis.
 
A boy, his beagle dog, a group of friends, and a little canary bird – all messengers of wisdom. The magic of a few pen strokes on paper embodied with the soul of the enduring artist and philosopher Charles Shultz encapsulates the ageless insights of leadership and life.
 
In the words of Charlie Brown: “Learn from yesterday, live for today, look to tomorrow, rest this afternoon.”
 
You are a good man, Charlie Brown.
 
Debbie Henry is Executive Director of The TMA Group; and Associate Executive Director of Leadership Franklin.
 

Posted on: 10/25/2013

 
 

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