The movie ‘Batman Begins’ is one of my favorite movies. And one of my favorite scenes takes place on the ice, when Raz Algul tells Bruce Wayne, “Your parent’s death was not your fault. It was your father’s.”
“He had a gun!”
“Would that have stopped you?”
“I’ve got training!”
“Training is nothing! Will is everything! The will to act.”
These words should be carved in stone at the top of Leadership Mountain. They sum up and embody the essence of leadership. It does not matter what you know, what training you have, or even what amount of experience you have; if you do not have the courage to act you will fail.
If I had to choose between two leaders, one who was experienced and well trained but had no desire to lead and one who was motivated and ready to embrace the challenges but had no experience or training; the choice would be the same every time. Trying to lead without the will to act is like multiplying your experience and training by zero.
In the competitive shooting community there is a disagreement about what ‘tactical’ shooting matches really teach. Are they truly ‘tactical’ and replicate real life self-defense situations, or are they gamesmanship with competitors racing against the clock to shoot accurately? Can a competition shooter perform well in a life or death situation? Here’s my take; competition shooting is good firearm training, but it does not test the will to put yourself in the line of fire when people are shooting back at you.
Imagine being a well-trained shooter but with no desire to risk your life. How effective a shooter will be when you are shot at without that will?
That was exactly Raz Algul’s point. Training is nothing. Will is everything.
As a leader, how good will your decision making be when under pressure if you are not invested in the team or the mission?
Will is the most important factor for a leader. The willingness to sacrifice, take responsibility, to make decisions and live by them. The desire to be there, in that role. Leaders need the will to act.
For a leader, the will to act is the common denominator. The lack of will to act equals zero. Zero will times any amount of training or experience equals… zero.