Everyday leadership: Leadership doesn’t just happen

In 1982, my older brother Joe, purchased a log cabin (originally built in 1867) from the granddaughter of the original builder, Simon Bale. He disassembled the cabin made from large hand-hewn red oak logs ranging 18 to 20 feet long. Joe numbered each log prior to being moved 25 miles to his property near Mammoth Cave, Ky. There he carefully prepared the 115-year-old logs and began reassembling them on a stone foundation set on concrete. He had to replace a few damaged logs by cutting replacements and using the antique “broad ax” to hew and flatten the sides of the log.

When I first heard of his plans, I remember thinking, “What a job!” It took him about a year and four months to complete the job. My younger brother Jack and I both helped Joe on different weekends.

One weekend, I arrived at his home site in the afternoon on a beautiful mid August day. Joe had a turkey cooking in a homemade smoker. The smell drifted through the valley and I caught a whiff as I opened my car door. I walked the beaten dirt path down to where Joe was working on a log removing nails that had been used to adhere old newspapers and wallpaper to the logs over the many years. His arms and forehead glistened with sweat. It was clear to me that this was no easy or simple task.

I thought about the initial builders of this cabin. Very likely a man, his wife, and children all worked with the help of neighbors to fell just the right logs for the right position in the cabin walls. Then, a team of horses was enlisted to drag each log close to the cabin. With pulleys arranged in the trees above and raw manpower, the logs were hoisted and finally seated in their proper resting-places. Building a house in the mid 1800s was a community event. Neighbors truly needed one another to survive in those days.

Joe put a lot of his energy, creativity, and love into this house moving and house-raising project. His project was successful as was obvious when you looked at his beautiful home. Joe, first had a vision in his head of a safe, warm, handsome home sitting among the large oak, hickory, and maple trees on his property that he cared for so much. Then, he created a detailed plan for taking down the house and putting it back up. He enlisted the experience of neighbors who worked with log cabins maybe much as the original builder did. I was very impressed with the outcome, as was everyone who had the opportunity to view it.

His cabin was a true example of what good leaders do every day. Leadership is a series of deliberate events, not an accident. They develop a vision, plan how to get there, implement those plans, and then celebrate when their product is successful. This type of leadership is exciting and if you think about it, it happens in all aspects of our lives at work and at home.

R. Glenn Ray, Ph.D., is the president of RayCom Learning. Visit his Web site, www.raycomlearning.com