No Leader is an Island

by  Mary C. Schaefer  |  Self Leadership

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.” – John Donne

I never really read this poem in its entirety until today.  Why today?  I received a motivational email suggesting I write my own “acknowledgements.”  You know, like when an author writes a book and thanks everyone who made it possible.  It brought to mind, “No Man is an Island.”

If I am truly grateful for my lot, the challenges and the blessings, (one could say they are the same thing…), who would I acknowledge?  In particular, who would I acknowledge that helped me along my leadership journey, because “No Leader is an Island.”

“I’d like to thank the Academy…”

For me, my acknowledgements for my leadership journey would include:

  • A colleague who early in my career went out of his way encourage me to get into management because he thought I had a way with people.
  • The women who had the courage to ask me, “Who do you think you are?” when they thought I was acting like I was better than them.
  • The mentor who taught me to create my opportunities for “do-overs,” and how to rescue or strengthen a working relationship.
  • The employee who taught me to be aware of how my harsh words can feel like a threat simply because of my title and perceived authority.
  • The supervisor who supported me when I wanted to go against the grain and challenge standard ways HR and management treat people.

No clod left behind.

One more thing.  As I acquainted myself with this poem, this line struck me, “If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less.”  It took me a minute to grasp the meaning, but this too is integral to the thought, “No Leader is an Island.”

I might be missing out because I’m judging someone as too “different.”  There may be someone in my community who has a lot to offer, but may be holding back for any number of reasons.   And just as important, where am I holding back, because the world needs this clod too.

Indeed, no leader is an island.

Today, Leader, where are you going to make your move?

  • Who do you need to acknowledge or encourage?
  • Who can you reach out to, to expand your horizons?
  • Where do you need to challenge yourself so the world benefits even more by your potential?

Image: Pixabay member geralt

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About The Author

Articles By mary-schaefer
Speaker, coach and trainer Mary Schaefer’s expertise is in creating work cultures where organizations and human beings can both thrive. She is a former HR manager. Find out more about how Mary helps managers empower themselves to make the most of their human resources with this special collection of articles selected for LCG readers:  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Mike Henry  |  17 Sep 2013  |  Reply

Thanks for the great post and reminder Mary. We can all be part of something huge if we’ll simply adjust our horizon. I’m reminded of several friends like you who have made me better. Thank you.


Mary C Schaefer  |  17 Sep 2013  |  Reply

“We can all be part of something huge…” – YES!

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