by Lee G. Bolman and Terrence E. Deal
Bolman and Deal have researched hundreds of leaders in a variety of fields and have interesting personal synopses of how each has been successful or less than successful in their positions. None of us is Mother Theresa, nor Andrew Fastow ("Enron's prince of darkness"). However, the book gives the reader a short 12 question quiz at the beginning to assess our own leadership images. This self-inventory helps to determine how much we align with the analyst, the caregiver, the warrior, and the wizard. Through that lens we look at the examples they provide throughout the book.
Remember that we have all of these characteristics within us, but lean far more to some descriptions than others. Yet, as Bolman and Deal point out, "Many of us hope to lead from our comfort zones...We disavow both warrior and wizard, hoping that experise and people skills will get us where we want to go. It is a vain hope. In limiting ourselves and playing it safe, we lose touch with reality and close off access to our deeper psychic and spiritual power. We also forfeit the likelihood that we will achieve anything interesting or important." (p. 13)
Some days being the warrior leaves us pretty exhausted because we are fighting the good fight. Finding other warriors to assist is vital. If we do not have what it takes within ourselves to be both (and who are we kidding if we think we do?), then it is imperative to find our assistance in others.
If you are a warrior who needs a wizard, look to those around you for the magic and the spirit. If you are a wizard but lack the warrior tactics and strength, find the assistance you need for moving forward. You build the culture in which your success or failure depends on others as well as yourself.
Bolman and Deal set up warrior roles in categories of toxic, relentless and principled with traits and examples from the real world. Business chief executives, military leaders, American presidents, basketball coaches form the first chart and I have to agree that Bobby Knight was categorized as toxic and John Wooden as principled. And although I could identify with the relentless warrior, I am not a Bill Gates, the relentless geek, nor Carly Fiorina, the relentless warrior of HP under fire. Principled warriors have the heart, mind, skills and weapons needed for the job. Remember these can come with a team!
Wizard roles are also in categories of harmful, wannabe, and authentic. Using the same lattice as the warrior role categories, Dave Bliss was listed as harmful, Rudy Tomjanovich as a wannabe, and Phil Jackson as authentic. Having read many of Phil Jackson's books and watching much basketball, I agree.
Wizards are wise, recognize the importance of symbols and emblematic events, and encourage a strong link between words and deeds. They plunge wholeheartedly into unfamiliar depths, are passionate, turn the status quo into something special, and tie a familiar past with a new reality.
Charles Smith described successful executives who have become legendary wizards: "Exceptional leaders cultivate the Merlin-like habit of acting in the present moment as ambassadors of a radically different future,in order to imbue their organizations with a break-through vision of what is possible to achieve" (p. 135). Howard Schultz for Starbucks and Mary Kay Ash the founder of the Mary Kay cosmetic industry are two examples provided in the book...along with the reminder that neither started out as a wizard. Very few of us do.
Wizards embrace foibles and folly and have the wisdom to realize that the journey within is more important than the public view of our lives and organizations. Bolman and Deal advise that wizardry is within reach if we focus on our inner journey. The Joseph Campbell journey of first leaving home psychically and spiritually, embarking on a perilous quest or venturesome pilgrimage to seek a subterranean level of human awareness, and then returning home, armed with new capacities and a deeper understand of who we are and what we can do to enrich the lives of others (pp. 145-6) allows us to go to work with inspired leadership.
Be vulnerable. Share your vulnerability with others through story and action. Stories nourish the spirit. Stories infuse life with meaning, faith, and hope. Sometimes we need stories more than food to stay alive!
The book concludes with advice. Each day spend time in reflective thought, laugh, and be moved to tears by sadness or joy. This is the advice Bolman and Deal share from the late Jim Valvano, the legendary basketball coach at North Carolina State before he died from cancer. It is apt and fitting for developing the wizardry and warrior teams we need in our education systems now.
Remember that you can get this book through our partnership with Tracey Kubitz of Kubitz Educational Services. Check it out.
Many of us read Bolman and Deal's Reframing Organizations back during our administrative preparation. It came after McGregor's X and Y Theory of management. If you have not read their Leading with Soul from the early 2000's, that is a great quick but symbolic read also. However, The Wizard and the Warrior: Leading with Passion and Power takes a new look at what it takes to be a leader during this time of change in the education landscape today. Strength and courage with wisdom and soul are within each and every one of us.