Introduction to So, You Want to Be a Leader by William F. Merck II

January 3, 2023

Introduction

William F. Merck II, Author, Leader, Speaker

by William F. Merck II

On Book Excerpts | Leadership
My definition of a leader is not restricted to any particular spot on an organization chart or any title. A leader is anyone who sets a direction and inspires others to follow.

I have spent many hours thinking about what a lifetime of work means. Is it worth the effort? Have I made a difference? Maybe not in some grand sense that the world is a changed place because of me or that I achieved a magical breakthrough like something out of a fairy tale. But I believe the answer is yes. In considering what I have accomplished, particularly as I gained experience, I’ve learned about people and their lives and, just as importantly, I have discovered who I am and what I can and can’t do. It took a lifetime to learn these things, and through the process, I believe I’ve developed into a person approaching my full potential.

When I was young, I was given lessons about all sorts of things, and I absorbed them to some degree. However, I realize now that I never fully grasped the depth of those lessons as they were happening. Only later, when living through the objects of those lessons, was I able to fully feel the emotions, passions, and fears that accompanied them in order to truly understand what the lessons were attempting to teach me. Now that I have lived the life those lessons were about and had time for reflection, I see I’ve learned so much.

It’s About Character

This leads me to share my knowledge with you about leadership as I experienced it in the context of a working career. My wide-ranging understanding is not only about the mechanics of leadership but how character underpins a leader’s decisions. Leaders come with their own human emotions and feelings. The cultures and people who inhabit the everyday workplace take actions that shape these personal attributes. Leaders develop empathy, their integrity is tested continuously, and they become role models.

I don’t know where you are in your career path—the beginning, the middle, or nearing the end. My stories and observations are about all of these stages. I begin with some of the experiences you’ll likely come across in your early years and tell you how I dealt with some of the situations I faced. In some cases, I handled them well. In others, not so well.

However, as time passed and I gained experience, I became better and better at what I did. Sometimes, it was not what I accomplished from a work transaction but what I gained in learning about personal integrity, honesty, and treating people with respect. I learned to make decisions not based on expediency or what was expected but on what I believed to be the right thing to do in a variety of circumstances, some of them even controversial.

My experiences as a leader are primarily from working within a traditional structure.

My experiences as a leader are primarily from working within a traditional structure; if seen on an organizational chart, it would resemble a pyramid. At the top sits a board of directors. Flowing down the chart, next is a president, below that is a row of vice presidents, below that a row of associate vice presidents, followed by assistant vice presidents, department heads, and finally staff or team members.

You may work in an organization that is configured differently, but here is where my experience lies. Remembering this may be helpful when it comes to understanding some of my word choices and examples. References to a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or a president are interchangeable. Other titles that use “C” terms are references to the C-suite of executives—a shorthand way to aggregate these individuals.

Introduction to So, You Want to Be a Leader by William F. Merck II

A leader is anyone who sets a direction and inspires others to follow.

Your organization may use titles such as president, vice president, general, commander, or something else, so please consider my use of any C-suite designations to cover those positions as well. I am not providing any discourse on organizational structure; however, my stories come from experiences working in this particular hierarchical framework, and some of my phrasing is used in that context.

Most importantly, my definition of a leader is not restricted to any particular spot on an organization chart or any title. A leader is anyone who sets a direction and inspires others to follow.


If you would like to explore this concept and more on the topic of leadership, please consider reading my book, So, You Want to Be a Leader.

AVAILABLE ON AMAZON

So, You Want to Be a LEADER


Being a leader is not easy for anyone. Thankfully, this book transforms more than a half-century of leadership experiences into a practical handbook for those looking to excel in leadership roles. In candid fashion, So, You Want to Be a Leader: Secrets of a Lifetime of Success, reveals what works—along with an unvarnished examination of what doesn’t—in a myriad of work-related situations.

On Leadership

LEADER

AVAILABLE ON AMAZON

BREADCRUMBS: Finding a Philosophy of Life


In Bill’s new book released on March 14, 2023, the author uses stories from his life’s journey to illustrate points in time that helped form his view of the world and his place in it. From growing up in Southern Georgia in the 1940s, to becoming a military officer and a corporate leader, he discovers a nexus between early feelings and subsequent notions and beliefs.

On Philosophy

BREADCRUMBS