Making of leaders starts at home. Frank Pace sees family role in nurturing leadership
New York — ``If you trained athletes the way we train leaders,'' says Frank Pace Jr., ``you wouldn't have 10 people in Yankee Stadium.'' Mr. Pace runs his own kind of leadership training camp through the National Executive Service Corps, an organization he founded. ``I came to the conclusion some time ago,'' he says, ``that one of the great lacks in our society was the development of leaders.''
And this development, he realized, ``has to come about to a high degree in the home.''
That observation comes from someone who at various points in his career has been secretary of the Army, head of General Dynamics Corporation, and chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. He has rubbed elbows and shared thoughts with the likes of Gens. George Marshall and Omar Bradley and Presidents Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, and Lyndon Johnson. The faces of such prominent men stare down from the walls of Pace's midtown Manhattan office.
The portraits testify that the United States usually has had men and women prepared to become leaders. So why his concern?
``With the breakup of the home structure,'' he says, the development of leaders ``was not happening. In schools, I found to my unhappiness, it was usually not being fundamentally addressed.''
``True, you can't `teach' leadership,'' Pace says, ``but you can be exposed to it.''
Through his organization, which recruits retired business executives to take part in a variety of projects, including leadership training programs, Pace steers a nationwide effort to nurture the next generation of leaders. The National Executive Service Corps has had a hand in setting up leadership courses at thousands of high schools and colleges, including such prestigious places as Stanford, Dartmouth, and Princeton. It also works within corporations and through community groups.
But one of the best places for leadership to be nurtured, Pace says, is at home.
He recalls his own early experience. One of the most profound influences on his development as a business and civic leader was his mother, whom he describes as ``an enormously strong person.'' She was 38 when Frank Jr. was born, and a major figure in their northwestern Arkansas community, having been named president of the bank owned by her father. A female bank president, rare now, was unheard of then.
``I drew very, very heavily from her,'' he says. He also drew heavily from later associates, particularly General Marshall, under whom he worked in the years following World War II.
``He didn't just have character, he projected it,'' says Pace. And character, which he ties to strong moral values, is one of his prerequisites for good leadership.
Pace's academic life progressed from a small-town high school in Arkansas to prep school, then on to Princeton and Harvard Law School. Along the way, he notes, ``no one ever suggested to me that one of my options might be to be a leader.'' That notion just kind of came along by chance, he says.
By contrast, Frank Pace would now like to see every young American presented with the option of leadership -- boys and girls.
``I happen to think that women may have a greater yearning for leadership, and that may be terribly important,'' he suggests. Nevertheless, ``the emergence of women from the household doesn't necessarily connote an increase in leadership qualities.''
Yet all three of his daughters have held responsible positions outside the home, and ``I've been surprised,'' he says, ``at their ability to do that and retain great intimacy with their children.''
In the academic realm, Pace sees some schools doing an excellent job of teaching youngsters about leadership -- often through close examination of particular leaders, the way they handled crises, and the way they treated subordinates (his preferred word is ``contributors'').
Too often, however, students aren't made clearly aware of the ``values the individual accrues to himself'' in preparing for leadership. A sense of responsibility and of commitment to others is morally vitalizing, he says.
He spurns what he calls the ``shibboleths'' associated with leadership -- specifically, the notion that ``leaders are born, not made.''
That's ``hogwash,'' says this man, who fondly remembers watching Harry Truman ``sprout like a weed'' during his term as President. It may be true of artists or athletes, but even there ``once you see genius, you sure . . . have to train it.''