The Penalty of Leadership

by buildingpharmabrands

In every field of human endeavor, he that is first must perpetually live in the white light of publicity. Whether the leadership be vested in a man or in a manufactured product, emulation and envy are ever at work. In art, in literature, in music, in industry, the reward and punishment are always the same. The reward is wide-spread recognition; the punishment fierce denial and detraction. When a man’s work becomes a standard for the whole world, it also becomes a target for the shafts of the envious few. If his work be merely mediocre, he will be left severely alone – if he achieves a masterpiece, it will set a million tongues wagging. Jealousy does not protrude its forked tongue at the artist who produces a commonplace painting. Whatsoever you write, or paint, or play, or sing, or build, no one will strive to surpass, or to slander you, unless your work be stamped with the seal of genius. Long, long after a great work, or good work has been done, those who are disappointed or envious, continue to cry out that it cannot be done. Spiteful little voices in the domain of art were raised against our own whistler as mountebank, long after the big world had acclaimed him its greatest artistic genius. Multitudes flocked to Bayreuth to worship at the musical shrine of Wagner, while the little group of those whom he had dethroned and displaced argued angrily that he was no musician at all. The little world continued to protest that Fulton could never build a steamboat, while the big world flocked to the river banks to see his boat steam by. The leader is assailed because he is a leader, and the effort to equal him is merely added proof of that leadership. Failing to equal or excel, the follower seeks to depreciate and destroy – but only confirms once more the superiority of that which he strives to supplant. There is nothing new in this. It is as old as the world and as old as the human passions – envy, fear, greed, ambition, and the desire to surpass. And it all avails nothing. If the leader truly leads, he remains the leader. Master-poet, master-painter, master-workman, each in his turn is assailed, and each holds his laurels through the ages. That which is good or great makes itself known, no matter how loud the clamor of denial. That which deserves to live – Lives.

Cadillac Motor Car Co., Detroit, Michigan

Acclaimed as probably the best advertising copy ever written, this Cadillac Ad copy is also the best-ever essay written on leadership in general. It is applicable to leaders and leadership roles as to what makes them and what is expected of them. Written by the legendary copywriter, Theodore F. McManus, this ad  contrary to the popular belief appeared only once – on January 2, 1915 in the Saturday Evening Post. In all the years that followed millions of copies of this ad have been distributed around the world.