5 Leadership Characteristics: The Raoul Wallenberg Effect

16 Apr
London Memorial

London Memorial

The story of a hero and a leader.

The BBC’s report on Raoul Wallenberg achieving honorary Australian citizenship this morning told of a remarkable man’s accomplishment.  Or of a man making

Raoul Wallenberg uhnmm.org

Raoul Wallenberg
uhnmm.org

the best of all his knowledge and being and ‘stepping’ up in times of need?

Raising the question are leaders born or made?

This question gets raised when leaders are identified and scrutinized.   If it’s the latter, (and most of us believe it is) we can all adopt the ‘Wallenberg Effect’ and become the leaders we are meant to be in our everyday life.

A little background:  In 1944, Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat was sent to Budapest to ‘save’ this Jewish community.  You can imagine the challenge:  the Nazi’s were in a hurry to ensure Budapest’s 700,000 Jews followed in the footsteps of millions of other murdered Jews in Europe.  Wallenberg was only  33, and had no real diplomatic skills.  He was rich,  He had connections and his family name offered protection.  Mostly, he had chutzpah, conviction, and, courage.  Taking extraordinary and audacious actions, he managed to save close to 100,000 Hungarian Jews.  In one story he jumped on top of a cattle car to hand fake Swedish passports to people  on the way to camps.  He took people out of death march lines, ‘reminding’ them of their Swedish backgrounds.  On more than one occasion he convinced the Nazi’s NOT to shoot people after round-ups.  In sad irony,  when the Russians ‘liberated’ Budapest in January 1945, they placed Wallenberg in jail and he was never heard/seen again.

Budapest plaque

Budapest plaque

But his strength in action, lives on.  And after hearing the story this morning, I was reminded of the why and what of the  ‘Wallenberg Effect’.

The 5 characteristics attributed to Wallenberg are easily matched with basic leadership professional development we’ve all taken and/or taught.  And it’s always good to take a moment and remind ourselves (and others) of how to be our best:  http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/readings/wallenberg.htm

1.  Knowledge:  First and foremost, leadership is based on self-knowledge, or what Daniel Goleman called Emotional Intelligence (EQ).  Leaders know their strengths, their (communication) style and how they can effectively apply this style to motivate others. Wallenberg took 100% responsibility for ensuring (the Nazi’s) heard his message by meeting their ‘WIIFM’s’ (What’s In It For Me) or motivation which was to be strong and secure.

How do you define your EQ?  How do you support and develop this knowledge in others?

featurepics.com

featurepics.com

2.  Objective:  Leaders have clear goals and vision and take action based on their values.  Wallenberg acted on what he thought was right (values) and “walked the talk” when it came to saving the Hungarian Jewish community.

What are your top 5 values?  What actions do you take on a daily basis that support your beliefs?

sathyasai.org

sathyasai.org

3.  Ingenuity:  Leaders are able to work through and around situations.  To be sure Wallenberg had great connections, but he also used his knowledge of the Nazi’s love for extravagant detail when he supervised the creation of fake Swedish passports.  I’m sure his ingenuity, along with his EQ came into play as he ‘created’ 30 safe houses to hide people.

How do you know when things aren’t working and what steps do you take to identify a new win-win solution?

the 9-dot puzzle:  think outside the lines!

the 9-dot puzzle: think outside the lines!

4.  Confidence:  Chutzpah anyone?  Leaders feel they can do anything if they are doing the right thing.  Wallenberg made full use of his ‘charisma’ to stand up and ‘direct’ the Nazi’s in a way no-one else had.  Certainly his conviction and confidence swayed the Nazi’s to let him pull people out of death march lines.

How do you act when you are 100% sure of your conviction (versus when you are not)?

saw a guy on the subway yesterday in a superman costume... didn't take a picture... this from thechangeblog.com

saw a guy on the subway yesterday in a superman costume… didn’t take a picture… this from thechangeblog.com

5.  Courage:  Leaders take action regardless of the repercussions.  On the BBC this morning, I heard Wallenberg acted with, ‘No fear of death’, focused on the end result.  He was shot at while he was on top of that car handing out fake passports, and certainly could have been killed by the Nazi’s at any point in time.

When do you stand up for yourself and others even when you know you ‘are going against the grain’?

An icon of courage! http://plpnetwork.com

An icon of courage!
http://plpnetwork.com

Surely being in remarkable circumstances brings out the extraordinary in all of us.

But why wait?  If not now, when?

I think there are important small, quiet and safe times when we can stand out and develop ourselves to be our best.  Hopefully, most of us will never be in the position Wallenberg was in.

We can all take small steps that lead to giant saves.

a Budapest monument

a Budapest monument

Tel Aviv Memorial

Tel Aviv Memorial

Sweden Memorial

Sweden Memorial

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2 Responses to “5 Leadership Characteristics: The Raoul Wallenberg Effect”

  1. intuitiresearch May 6, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

    Thanks for the great piece!

    • lindabkatz May 8, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Hope to hear from you again!

      Linda

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