Leadership is one of the most discussed, important and illusory topics in the world.
There are endless articles, YouTube videos, and books about it. Leadership practices are studied, sifted through. Historical leaders are revered for their wisdom and their ability to inspire.
“Leaders have led nervous soldiers onto fields of battle, helped entire nations heal from the wounds of divisiveness, and led companies out of the red and into profit,” said Saint Jovite Youngblood. “In essence – leaders make the world go ‘round. Stepping into a position of authority brings with it tremendous responsibility.”
As the president of Youngblood Metals Mining, Saint Jovite Youngblood has led his own company for more than a decade. He uses his specialized knowledge of jewelry, coins and vintage toys to negotiate on behalf of his clients.
Essentially, Youngblood works as a purchaser and middle man who negotiates with sellers for clients looking for rare and valuable items. Youngblood specializes in pre-Victorian jewelry and is also knowledgeable about silver dollars that date before the 19th century. He is a member of the Professional Coin Grading Service as well as the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation.
Saint Jovite Youngblood has read books like Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s Leaders: Myth and Reality and listened to podcasts like Ashley Flowers’ “Very Presidential”. He believes they show that nearly everything we think we know about leadership is false. Leaders beneath every uniform, every suit – and even consistently existing in the oval office of the United States – are flawed human beings. The struggle to be a good human and a good leader is real. So, how do we get there? How do we traverse these misconceptions scattered throughout history about the often unrealistic and unattainable mores of leaders and instead find the attainable, the palpable, the real and effective ways to inspire the people behind our companies?
Possessing a willingness to invest in oneself and in a team of people takes real grit – and faith in the concept and in the people in your corner.
Saint Jovite Youngblood says that entrepreneurship has always been for the bold. Leadership has been believed to be in that same category, but perhaps the approach should be a bit different.
How many times has a CEO made a mistake and hidden out in the corner office? It is tempting. Avoidance is one way of attempting to deal with disappointment, but it is never the most effective way.
The question begs, he says: How do we face our own fallibility as entrepreneurs and leaders? With each tier up the company ladder comes more opportunity to shield ourselves from having to admit any failings. Is that the best approach? Perhaps being able to admit when you fall short allows for greater focus on the actions available to remedy the situation as much as possible.
One of the greatest examples is Ernest Shackleton, widely regarded as one of the greatest leaders of men in history. When World War I was erupting, his expedition to the South Pole received special permission from the British government to proceed in an attempt to cross the Antarctic continent. Ignoring warnings about pack ice from whalers in the area, he and his team of 27 men ventured in their reinforced beast of a ship called “The Endurance”. It was built for ice, but not this much. Eventually it was fully caught in the ice flow – its bows heaving as it bellowed, massive beams crushed – and over two dozen men stranded in the arctic with limited supplies and no means to summon anyone for rescue.
They were completely alone in a foreign and inhospitable environment. As time ticked by, the world believed they were dead, but they weren’t. They survived two years on that ice before an outlandish plan, which pretty much involved some of them crossing the notoriously treacherous Drake Passage in a reconfigured row boat, allowed them to find a way home. There were some toes lost to frostbite. At one point they had to eat shoe leather, the sled dogs they brought were slaughtered so that what rations remained could allow for human survival.
But not a single human life was lost. Tough decision after tough decision was made by Shackleton. Not a single man on the crew could deny that he made a mistake by ignoring the advice of the whalers, yet they could also not deny that he kept them alive. He fought to keep them inspired, to help them see that there would be a light at the end of the tunnel – they just couldn’t see it yet. He understood both their needs for rest and for routine.
Saint Jovite Youngblood believes the point is this: Ernest Shackleton’s greatest achievement surfaced from his greatest failure. Could he have hidden in his tent, drowned himself in a bottle of whiskey and ignored his starving men? Absolutely. Yet he chose to face them. He chose to rally his men around the concept of survival – the notion that good days would come again.
In every company story; in every human story there comes a crossroads. It is inevitable: rise or fall; fight or fail; own it or shirk it.
“In the corporate world we face these decisions on a micro level daily – they can be a kind of training ground for the big decisions we are sure to face,” said Saint Jovite Youngblood.