Leadership Mastery: Developing Your Feel for Leadership


Leadership mastery.

Has a nice sound to it doesn’t it?

I starting thinking seriously about leadership mastery as I was coming along in my Air Force career. Along the way, I had the opportunity to attend a variety of different professional military schools. One of them in particular was the Naval War College. As a young Major I was sent there to study for a year at Newport Rhode Island.

It was one of the best years of my career not only because of the location but more importantly because of the quality of education I received. Really, it really was transformational for me in terms of the way I approached leadership and the profession of arms in general.

One of the terms that I learned was a German word called fingerspitzengefuhl. It means “fingertip feel.” Think of a grandmaster on the piano. How their hands glide over the keys, how automatic that is, and how exquisite the result of that fingerspitzengefuhl.

The Germans applied that term initially to Napoleon, particularly when he was rampaging across most of Europe. How effortless it was for Napoleon to orchestrate these massive armies—the largest armies known in the history of the world—and achieve such quick and stunning success.

Napoleon had this mastery, this expertise, this effortless way that he was able to achieve such stunning results. Think also of people like Michael Jordan at his prime or Tiger woods when he was first coming out on the PGA Tour, how effortless they make their professions look.

We forget about all the hard work that goes into that, but my point here that is that your fingerspitzengefuhl is way to describe your mastery as a leader.

So in this series we’re going to talk about leadership mastery. We’re going to get into some detail about how you can increase your leadership mastery. Or as the Germans would say your fingerspitzengefuhl.

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