Yesterday we took Colonel Leo Thorsness, leader in Residence at the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, to the airport. Before this, he spent 2 1/2 days with our faculty and students -- talking to newly admitted Jepson students about his days in Hanoi Hilton, to students in our Foundations classes, ethics, and Don Forsyth's Group Dynamics class, and so on. Lunch with ROTC students at UR; pizza with Richmond College men. Dinner for our Jepson Forum event, Ronald Takaki.
Throughout, Colonel Thorsness' message is courage, "do what's right, help others", and -- here the leadership lesson emerges -- people will follow you if you this is your mantra. If it's not, they won't. He told us about how the men at Hanoi Hilton stripped the leader -- ranking officer -- of his rank because he had given up on this motivational mantra and become a broken man.
Is there a link to HET? Economists today rarely talk about the motivational force that a good leader generates. But Adam Smith knew about such things. In a paper I presented at the International Leadership Association 2 weeks ago, David Levy and I made the case that, for Smith, the approbation that comes from "doing the right thing", being praiseworthy, motivates leaders and then their followers.
Here's a key passage that makes the case that a leader, motivated by equality, was able to command a rather large number of supporters at Culloden. My grandmother was a MacLean (of Duart); David's a Cameron. Here's what Smith has to say about leadership:
It is not thirty years ago since Mr. Cameron of Lochiel, a gentleman of Lochabar in Scotland, without any legal warrant whatever, not being what was then called a lord of regality, nor even a tenant in chief, but a vassal of the Duke of Argyle, and without being so much as a justice of peace, used, notwithstanding, to exercise the highest criminal jurisdiction over his own people. He is said to have done so with great equity, though without any of the formalities of justice; and it is not improbable that the state of that part of the country at that time made it necessary for him to assume this authority in order to maintain the public peace. That gentleman, whose rent never exceeded five hundred pounds a year, carried, in 1745, eight hundred of his own people into the rebellion with him. (Smith WN: B.III, Ch.4).