This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Synthesis Paper #7: Carlyle Jessica R. Dreistadt LEAD 710 Historical Perspectives of Organizational Leadership Eastern University November 13, 2010
SYNTHESIS PAPER #7: CARLYLE Carlyle's On Heroes and Hero Worship provides several examples of heroes throughout
history that have had an impact on society. Heroes, according to Carlyle, are both channels of spirit and venerated by others; they therefore have the potential to be influential and transformational. This paper is based on two sections of the text: hero as Prophet and hero as poet. In these, he describes a number of traits of effective leaders; a primary characteristic is authenticity. The symbolic frame illuminates Carlyle's intentions in describing heroes as agents of love and change as well as the social function of storytelling. Carlyle's examples of historical heroes sketch a lens through with leaders can understand the power they hold and how they can be purposeful and sincere in pursing their individual and organizational goals. In the symbolic frame, “heroes and heroines, through words and deeds, serve as living logos” (Bolman & Deal, 2008 pp. 254). The stories associated with heroes and heroines create culture by connecting people to each other and to something larger than than themselves, inspire change and action, and “help people find purpose and passion” (Bolman & Deal, pp. 253). Carlyle offers Mohammad, Dante, and Shakespeare as three examples of influential, and often misunderstood or underestimated, heroes. He tells us that people have an “indestructible reverence for heroism” (III). The mystery of heroic individuals can have a powerful hold on us; leaders symbolize our collective hopes and dreams and their words and actions can serve as a gauge for our own understanding of possibilities. Carlyle encourages us to look beyond appearances for intent and meaning. He also warns us against idol worship and limiting our beliefs to the material world of our experiences. “That this so solid-looking material world is...Nothing, is a visual and factual manifestation of G-d's power and presence, – a shadow hung out by Him on the bosom of the void Infinite” (II). The story of individual struggle and transformation also fits within the
SYNTHESIS PAPER #7: CARLYLE symbolic frame; this is demonstrated by Mohammad's time in the desert and Dante's time spent wandering. These stories illustrate hope and remind us to value the learning process inherent in difficult times. Carlyle identifies specific traits that are characteristic of exemplary leaders. He “identifies what traits we should have and whether the traits we do have are the best for leadership”
(Northouse, 2010, pp. 26) as is suggested by trait theory. Leaders, particularly in the prophetic and poetic roles, should be honest, humble, just, loyal, patient, confident, aware, visionary, hopeful, open to learning, graceful, willing to take risks, and connected to truth. “Leaders are a special kind of people – people with gifts who can do extraordinary things” (Northouse, pp. 25). Carlyle demonstrates how Mohammad, Dante, and Shakespeare combined their skills with life experiences to create significant works and inspire others. There is also a theme of authentic leadership, which “focuses on whether leadership is genuine and 'real'” (Northouse, pp. 205). “Sincerity, a deep, great, genuine sincerity, is the first characteristic of all men in any way heroic” (Carlyle, II). Without this basis, leadership efforts are disconnected and futile. As leaders, we are representatives of, and intermediaries between, the people we serve and the spiritual realm. This great responsibility requires both strength of character and tenacity in countenance. The poet and prophet both act as storytellers, creatively and honestly sharing their wisdom to illuminate ideas and inspire action. To do this, leaders must have a clear vision and the ability to articulate it with passion, or “speak forth melodiously what the heart of it means” (Carlyle, III). In addition to being articulate, leaders must base their actions on values and connection to nature or G-d in order to be genuine and purposeful. Carlyle reminds us that struggle is the gateway to learning and change and that imperfections are secondary to our true nature. “The
SYNTHESIS PAPER #7: CARLYLE
greatest of faults...is to be conscious of none” (Carlyle, II). Leaders inevitably encounter resistance and even denouncement. Strife is a part of being human and by acknowledging it, and connecting to love to transcend it, we can effectively lead and transform not only ourselves but our organizations and communities as well.
SYNTHESIS PAPER #7: CARLYLE References Bolman, L. G. and T. E. Deal (2008). Reframing organizations: Artistry, choice, and leadership. 4th edition. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Carlyle, T. (1997). The Project Gutenberg EBook of Heroes and Hero Worship. Retrieved from http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1091. Northouse, P.G. (2009). Leadership: Theory and practice. 5th edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.