“Leadership: The Warrior’s Art” by Christopher D. Kolenda
Christopher D. Kolenda’s editorial effort Leadership: The Warrior’s Art is a love letter to those with agency, and those who use that agency to take certain initiative. Through a series of essays and professionally articulated positions acquired from varied sources, Leadership: The Warrior’s Art showcases accoladed experts’ well-earned opinions and philosophies. This include Kolenda’s respective take on leadership, setting the tone for the subsequent pieces to come. As far as he is concerned, it’s worth looking to, and juxtaposing with, history – as after all, history is responsible for more of the modern world than we typically think. “The ancients, of course, were not without faults and contradictions.
Many philosophers and leaders held slaves while preaching moral equality,” Kolenda caveats, emphasis on the term ‘juxtaposition’. “They largely excluded women from political, educational, and economic life. Torture was not uncommon…Despite these contradictions, the ideas that arose at that time are fundamental to the development of today’s leaders, stretching our minds and our practices toward something better and helping us be the best possible versions of ourselves.”
From this, Kolenda writes: “How does a person develop into a leader? Are leaders born or made? Ultimately, a theory of leadership begins with an assumption about human nature. While it is common to discuss human nature in terms of fundamentally good, fundamentally bad, or a ‘blank slate,’ a number of ancient philosophers had a slightly different perspective. They saw people in terms of what they can be.”
It’s from sentiments such as these that Kolenda sets the subsequent tonality. While many of the subsequent pieces share distinct perspectives and voices, Kolenda is wise to set a sort of literary precedent. Some editorial compilations, particularly of the nature equivalent to the topical essay, suffer from jarring perspectives and tonal discrepancies. In a case like this, that would be detrimental to the otherwise powerful succinctness, plus crisp nature of Leadership’s storytelling ability. All of the essays are linked thematically by a simple, consistent undertone: Leadership ultimately is not about people listening to you. It is you being democratically lifted to that position by the merits others see in you.
“Etched in the rock alongside the stairs that one traveled up to visit the oracle at Delphi were the words ‘know thyself.’ To become the best version of oneself, one must know the characteristics that make them members of the human race and the innate qualities that make them individually unique,” Kolenda writes in the first essay. “…Education provides a solution. According to Plato, education is not putting sight into blind eyes; it is the art of turning the soul from bondage to freedom, from darkness to light, from ignorance to truth. Turning the soul toward the light is painful and blinding at first. The ascent out of the cave is long, steep, and strenuous. But once there, the soul can see what ‘is’ rather than what ‘seems to be.’ The person can comprehend the good.”