Leadership Lessons from St. Patrick

Robert-photo-w-icon-150-4-7-10-FINAL4-150x150Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Lost in the midst of parades, green beer, and Irish music, there is a story of a remarkable leader. That millions of people still celebrate a holiday honoring Patrick, 1500 years after his death, attests to his success as a leader.  How does his legacy have anything to do with business leadership today?

Leaders are not born into this world; some may arrive with stronger leadership traits or qualities than others, but earning the credibility needed to succeed as a leader takes vision, strength to accept a challenge and a willingness to persevere in overcoming it.

Born to a wealthy British-Roman family, Patrick was kidnapped by a band of Irish marauders as a teenager and pressed into servitude in Ireland. After six years in captivity, Patrick summoned the courage to escape. After surviving a 200-mile trek across Ireland to reach the sea, he talked his way onto a shipping vessel bound for his homeland.  Then, he invested 15 years into educating himself before, despite the pleas of family and friends, he returned to Ireland and dedicated his life to helping others. During his time, Patrick developed 450 leaders among Irish communities, and helped establish 300 churches. He rose to meet his challenge and persisted in his work, teaching and leading, despite resistance.

Through a very challenging early life, Patrick became aware his strengths, weaknesses and values. He took time to listen to others and learned how to deliver his message in ways that the Irish people could understand. This strengthened his power of persuasion and ability to influence. Patrick developed the strategic foresight to understand what he wanted to achieve and regularly used conceptualization to help others see his vision, creating the Celtic cross and using the native shamrock to help the Irish people connect with his message.

Patrick consistently demonstrated courage and strength by making difficult choices in crisis situations, recognizing his own limitations and engaging others to collaborate, and acting in the best interest for the community and the people committed to it.

Patrick exercised humility and empathy, without which trust cannot be earned and people cannot be motivated to achieve necessary goals.

Patrick valued relationships and built communities, bonding people together around shared purpose, vision and core values.

Patrick learned from his circumstances, discovered what he valued and rose to meet the challenges of his time with vision, strength and perseverance. Fifteen hundred years later, he still offers a model for exceptional leadership.

What could you learn from Patrick’s leadership model?

Why are his methods still valid in today’s economy?






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