Good Leaders Have the “Right Stuff”

This is my forty-fourth weekly Blog regarding leadership in America. Coined by Tom Wolfe in his book The “Right Stuff,” the book covers the challenges faced by American test pilots and early astronauts as they pushed to break the sound barrier and rocket to outer space. The “Right Stuff” is the term used to describe the undefinable make-up and character of these pioneering individuals, enabling them to successfully deal with the dangers and complexities of their professions. I believe that the phrase “Right Stuff” also applies to leaders who have innate leadership talent that is likewise undefinable and critical for their success. Good leaders have the “Right Leadership Stuff” and “Stuff” is the best way to describe the intangible art of leadership. Good leaders defy definition and labels. They just seem to have a natural born gift for leading, a sixth sense of how to be a leader without ever being in a leadership position. Leaders with the right stuff are born to lead; it’s what they are best suited to do, what they were meant to do. Leaders with the right stuff project the proper degree of self-confidence and boldness without succumbing to conceit and arrogance. When leaders have the right stuff, they draw upon an internal reservoir of talent that they use to deal with the challenges of leadership. They recognize that whatever success they experience as a leader, it is because of a leadership talent or gift that they were born with and without that gift or stuff, they could not be an effective leader. This realization humbles good leaders. Rank and reward have no appeal to a leader with the right stuff. A bloated ego cannot survive inside a good leader. Leaders with the right stuff always put the best interests of their workforces’ above their own. Possessing the right leadership stuff, a leader inherits the calling and duty to take the gift of leadership selflessly.
Paul Okum has 40 years’ experience with the Federal Government in the Departments of Transportation, Interior, Army, and Defense in leadership positions, including being a US Army officer and a human resources director. Mr. Okum has written “Leadership DNA,” a provocative and useful guide book about identifying, selecting, and developing natural born leaders. This book explains the art of leadership including how to deal with poor managers that can cripple an organization.
For more information about Paul Okum and Leadership DNA, visit

This entry was posted in Book Excerpts, Business, Government, Leadership, Leadership DNA, Management, Paul Okum, Politics and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Good Leaders Have the “Right Stuff”

  1. bookmarked!!, I really like your site!

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