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Marty Linsky
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Marty Linsky

Co-founder of the leadership-focused consulting firm, Cambridge Leadership Associates, Marty Linsky teaches at the Harvard Kennedy School, co-authors the advice column, Leadership House Call and blogs at Linsky on Leadership .

Going to Jerusalem

This post is In response to the following question:
As the heroic Capt. Richard Phillips reminded us when he offered himself to the pirates instead of his crew, sea captains, like all good leaders, are expected to sacrifice themselves and their personal interests to protect those under their command. What are other examples from other fields of endeavor of leaders who have succeeded or failed to live up to this obligation? What factors should leaders consider when deciding when and whether to make extraordinary personal sacrifices?
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Captain Phillips was heroic, to be sure, but he was doing what exactly what ship captains are supposed to do, what they are paid to do, what they are expected to do. In that sense, he was not exercising leadership at all.

Compare Phillips to Anwar Sadat. Going to Jerusalem was an extraordinary act of leadership. He knew he was putting himself at risk. He acted way beyond his job description on behalf of a most noble aspiration: peace. That's leadership, and he paid the ultimate price.

The decision to put oneself at great risk beyond reasonable expectations is an essential ingredient of leadership. It is a very personal decision and only makes sense when connected to some purpose outside of individual aggrandizement or gain. That's why we see so little leadership, especially from people in big jobs who have so much to lose.

By Marty Linsky

 |  April 15, 2009; 10:18 AM ET
Category:  Self-Sacrifice Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Last in Line for Reward | Next: Protecting Life

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