Baronial-Lead-art - 5/30/97
“Principles of Leadership and a Baron/ess” by Sir Conor mac Cinneide, OL.
This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.
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Mark S. Harris AKA: THLord Stefan li Rous
Stefan at florilegium.org
To: bryn-gwlad at eden.com
Date: Mon, 19 May 1997 04:31:43 GMT
Organization: The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas
Subject: Choosing a New Baron
I would like to see some discussion about the choice which faces us in Bryn
Gwlad. If we are to have a new Baron, then I would like us to discuss what we
want in a Baron. You heard me right, what, not who.
Even though we will have to make our choice soon, I still think that we need to
take the time to discuss what we want from our Baron. If we know what, then who
will be an easier decision to make.
To that end I have included below an article which I wrote some time back. It
is actually older than the date on it, but that date is the last time I edited
it. Please let me know what you think, especially what you think about what we
want from our Baron. I am also open to discussion of candidates, but only in
positive terms. I will reject any attempts to draw me into mudslinging.
carcassonnais at juno.com
Principles of Leadership and a Baron/ess
An Article by Conor mac Cinneide
At some time in the future, whether near or far, every Barony will be faced
with the need to choose a new Baron/ess. Usually the announcement of a Baronial
retirement is quickly followed by candidates taking their places and rallying
their followers. The candidates are the topic of discussion. The
qualifications, or characteristics of a good Baron/ess are often forgotten
except how they apply to the different candidates.
It is the goal of this article to turn the discussion from candidates to
characteristics. How can any Barony know who will be the best Baron/ess, if
they do not first discuss what it takes to be a successful Baron/ess? This
article is an attempt to discuss some of the characteristics of a successful
The position of Baron/ess is a most unusual leadership position. We place a
person in an obvious leadership position and yet we do not give them the
authority to do the job. The authority rests with the Seneschal, the legal
representative of the SCA. So, the Baron/ess must make his own way, using his
own leadership abilities to create an atmosphere where his populace will be
willing to follow.
A Baron/ess must have a character based on solid and correct principles. A
Baron/ess must believe in something bigger than himself. It may be the
principles of chivalry, or honor or even strong religious values, but the
principles must be there. Strength of character comes from the strength of the
principles you believe in, and the strength of that belief.
These principles take many forms, but can be discussed in terms of fairness,
honesty, service to others and many more. With these principles as a foundation
a Baron/ess will be able to go forward and use the leadership principles that
You cannot lead unless you have somewhere to go. This may seem obvious, but
we often see people in positions of leadership who never show their followers
where they wish to lead. How often have you seen a Baron/ess explain his vision
to his populace?
The vision of a Baron/ess can serve as a focal point for a Barony, but the
vision must be carefully chosen and presented. A Baron/ess who fails to listen
to their populace may find that they are leading where no one will follow. This
cannot be too highly stressed. Almost any Baron/ess can find himself fighting
his Barony to accomplish something.
Without a vision, a Barony will languish and may suffer from apathy. A vision
may serve to unite a Barony which might otherwise suffer from factionalization.
It would be incorrect to say that a lack of vision will cause these problems,
but a strong vision may cure them. If the Baron/ess does not have a vision,
he may find that others who have a vision may be leading his Barony.
The vision of a Baron/ess may take many forms, but to be effective, it must be
concrete. The vision may be a new Baronial pavilion, or new thrones, or
banners, or all three. The vision may be a terrific new event idea. But a
vision of unity, though worthy has no power to inspire. To unify a Baron/ess
must provide a vision to be shared by the populace.
Listening has already been mentioned, but it becomes important as the Baron/ess
tries to sell his vision to the populace. The Baron/ess listens to understand
his populace. Without that understanding mistakes will be made. The Baron/ess
listens to learn the dreams, hopes and wishes of his populace. With that
understanding the Baron/ess can be sure to present a vision which will be
accepted by the populace. But the Baron/ess must also believe in the vision, or
he will be unable to inspire others. The deep understanding which the Baron/ess
creates will help him persuade the populace to follow.
Often we do not wish to have others persuade us, but powers of persuasion are
very important to a successful Baron/ess. A powerful vision must be presented.
The Baron/ess must sell his vision to the populace. Without salesmanship the
Baron/ess will fail to project his vision to the populace.
To lead successfully a Baron/ess must have a vision and the ability to listen,
and the ability to sell that vision to the populace.
Leadership demands style, especially a leadership role which includes ceremonial
duties, like Baron/ess. Some parts of style are easy to describe. The
Baron/ess represents both the Barony and the Crown and in these roles the
Baron/ess should dress well. A Baron/ess should also be able to speak well and
turn a phrase with style. The Baron/ess should have personality without being
obnoxious. No one wants a boring Baron/ess. We expect a Baron/ess to be
engaging and personable. These are all parts of style, and there are others,
but this should illustrate the point.
To go with style, charisma will make the job of Baron/ess much easier. Charisma
is a characteristic which is easier to recognize than to define, but if a
Baron/ess has it, his vision will be easier to sell to the populace. A lack of
charisma is not fatal, but it would be nice if a Baron/ess had it.
Earlier I spoke of persuasiveness, which is the ability to convince others and
bring them to your point of view. But a Baron/ess should also have influence
over his populace. Whether because of trust or reputation or charisma, a
Baron/ess should have influence with his populace. This influence will aid the
Baron/ess in persuading the populace to accept a common vision. It will aid the
Baron/ess to act as a unifying influence, which I will discuss later.
Persuasion is active, and influence is the passive equivalent. The Baron/ess
may influence with his example, or his words. Through the influence of a
Baron/ess an entire Barony may be changed.
The influence of the Baron/ess will depend greatly on his integrity. Integrity
is more than just honesty. Honesty is telling the truth. Integrity means
keeping promises and commitments, and, important for a Baron/ess, fulfilling
expectations. Integrity builds trust. A Baron/ess who does not have the trust
of his populace will fail in leadership. A lack of trust will lead to a
diminishing of influence.
This one has given me some problems. Fame is composed of many elements, rank
reputation, name recognition, achievement and accomplishment as well, and there
are others. Fame will aid a Baron/ess in many of the other areas of leadership.
Fame can be a component in influence. Fame is certainly an aid to charisma.
Certainly for fame to be of value it must be positive fame. Notoriety of the
negative variety will cause many problems and must be avoided.
The fame of a Baron/ess brings fame to the Barony. The fame of the Baron/ess
will help to avoid the "that's the best they could do?" comments. But a great
Baron/ess will build fame, for himself and his Barony as he leads them. The
accomplishments and achievements of the Barony will be ascribed to the Baron/ess
and the fame of Barony and Baron/ess will grow together.
Personal achievement and accomplishment should be important to a Baron/ess.
Achievement can be a window into a person's heart, showing us what they hold
important and their dedication to those goals. It does not matter whether the
accomplishments are in combat, the arts or service. A desire to achieve is not
enough. Without actual achievement we cannot judge dedication. This is why a
Baron/ess is usually chosen from among those veterans of the SCA who have spent
many years achieving rank and position. Achievement and the recognition, rank
and fame which come from it are important to good leadership in the SCA.
Ability to Unify
Finally, we come to an ability which may never be displayed prior to ascending
the Baronial throne. When this ability has not been displayed, a Barony will
need to judge potential and commitment to unify.
Even at the best of times a Barony is a diverse group. This diversity is a
strength when properly managed, but without management it can devolve into a
lack of unity and even factionalization. Strong factions are one of the
primary reasons why some Baronies end up with weak leaders. The strong leaders
are in the factions and therefore unacceptable to every other faction. A
compromise Baron/ess is seldom a strong leader and that Barony needs strong
leadership. A Baron/ess must be committed to unity. For truly great
accomplishments a Barony will require all of its strength, the strength that
comes from everyone pulling together. That is unity.
Unity is not uniformity. A Baron/ess who works for uniformity will fail. The
attempt will anger the populace and undermine the position of the Baron/ess. In
the unlikely event of success, the Baron/ess would have succeeded in destroying
the strength of that Barony.
In our Society achievement is a structure built on the foundation of diversity.
Without unity there is no foundation, merely individuals. Without diversity,
the foundation will not be wide enough to support a tall structure. Within a
Barony, the greatest accomplishments will occur when a widely diverse group of
individuals unites, each using his unique talents toward a common goal.
This unity will come from a leader who tries to draw in all the members of the
populace and make them feel like a part of the Barony. That this leader should
be the Baron/ess seems obvious.
"Let him bleed Dodger blue"
Of rabid Dodger fans over the years it has been said, "If you cut him, he would
bleed Dodger blue." This signified a commitment to the team that went far
beyond the usual fan support.
A Baron/ess should feel that type of commitment to his Barony. The commitment
of Baron/ess to Barony should be total. A Baron/ess should have few things that
are more important than his Barony. A Baron/ess should be willing to sacrifice
much for the Barony. Accomplishment does not come without sacrifice and the
populace will be unwilling to sacrifice if they see that the Baron/ess is
unwilling to do so.
The populace will sense this commitment or lack thereof. Any attempt to lead,
unify or persuade will be undermined if the populace senses this lack of
We have looked now at some of the abilities and character traits which can make
a Baron/ess a successful leader. When the choice comes again, think first of
the important characteristics of Vision, Style, Influence, Fame and the Ability
to Unify, as well as Persuasiveness, the Ability to Listen, Charisma,
Achievement, Integrity, and a commitment to the Barony.
If you look first to these characteristics and then look to find who meets these
criteria, you will more easily find a great leader who will be a great
Baron/ess. Politics are unimportant when judging these characteristics. Each
of these characteristics is important, but not necessarily of equal importance.
Each individual may find a different characteristic important. I can only
answer for myself.
But, think first of what you want in a Baron/ess. Discuss these thoughts with
others. As a Barony we may find a consensus as to the important characteristics
of a Baron/ess. With those characteristics in hand, finding a consensus about a
candidate will be easier.