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6 Motivating and Empowering Poems About Leadership

Poems About Leadership

Poems about leadership can inspire you and empower your followers. This unique perspective from reading poems about leadership will help you think outside the box as a leader. These different poems by famous poets apply to leadership. I believe you will enjoy reading and empower you to take action.

How to Read Poems about Leadership

Using these poems to reflect on your abilities as a leader will inspire you to be a better leader.  It is important to find these mindful moments to appreciate how you connect with your followers.  When reading poetry, you need to follow some guidelines to get the most out of piece:

  1. Read the poem slowly so you can absorb the message.
  2. Read as you normally would any other piece of literature but remain relaxed.
  3. Note that is not necessary to stop at the end of a line.  Stopping disrupts the flow of the poem.
  4. If you are unaware of a word’s meaning you, it may be necessary to look the word up in a dictionary.

Following these simple guidelines will allow to gain a deeper understand of what it means to be a leader.  However, you will gain the most from these poems about leadership when you act upon the insights you take away from reflection.

Poetry About Leadership

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

 

Relating the Leadership: “Two roads diverged” as a leader you have the choice to lead or follow. “Sorry I could not travel both” this refers to the fact that you cannot be a leader and follower at the same time.

There are times when you need to step back and empower others to act. Once you receive the tag of a leader, you must step up, particularly when times get tough.

As a leader, you need to be proactive by calling upon the resources around you to “Look(ed) down one as far as I could.” “In leaves no step had trodden black” when you begin to take action, keep going.

All too often, it is easy to drift from the goals we set. “I doubted if I should ever come back” since your followers rely on you, it is easy for doubts to enter your mind. Do not fret your followers are with you. “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I- I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” Do not be afraid to blaze your path as that can set you apart from others and lead to financial success as well as in other areas of life.

 

Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore–
And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

 

Relating the Leadership: “What happens to a dream deferred?” As a leader, you need to establish a vision for not only yourself but also your followers. Your followers need to believe in the direction you set forth. When you communicate this vision, it must be clear and simply stated.

The rest of the poem speaks to the problems that can occur as you execute the plans on the way to achieve it.

 

O Captain! My Captain! by Walt Whitman

O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up-for you the flag is flung-for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths-for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

 

Relating the Leadership: “O CAPTAIN! my Captain!” is a reference to a leader from the follower’s perspective.

“The ship has weather’d every rack” speaks to the tiring battle you must face as the leader to navigate the rough waters and challenges that routinely present themselves.

The “prize we sought is won” concerns your goal attainment leaving “the people all exulting.”

“The vessel grim and daring” is about the risks that leaders must take to reach their destination. The journey is not easy and will require you to devote your energy to overcoming your fears, and you must overcome shiny object syndrome found in the line “O the bleeding drops of red.”

“Where on the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead.” Serving as a leader can be wearisome and thankless job leaving you physically and emotionally drained. Therefore, you need to find manners to rejuvenate and “rise up and hear the bells.”

Know that you will receive your rewards “for you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths-for you the shores a-crowding.”  These rewards may be enough to keep you motivated ad excited to pursue the next challenge or your lips may be “pale and still.”  It is important to find intrinsic motivating factors that you will appreciate and keep your batteries running.

“From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won.” Your trip as a leader may be wrought with fear, but you can overcome these fears and achieve the goals you set.

 

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill for the caged bird
sings of freedomThe free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

Relating the Leadership: “The free bird leaps on the back of the wind and floats downstream.” As a leader, we are not free if we have no followers and cannot float downstream on those who support us.

You need to enact a vision from the onset through daring to “claim the sky.” “His wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing.”

“The caged bird sings with fearful trill of the things unknown but longed for still and his tune is heard on the distant hill.” You need to sing your song even when fearful so that your followers can hear it near and far.

“A caged bird stands on the grave of dreams.” Although knowing when to change your priorities is important you should not give up on your dreams at the first sign of resistance, or you risk standing on the grave of dreams. Repetition of your vision and core values will always remain important so that your “tune is heard on the distant hill.”

 

Dreams by Langston Hughes

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

 

Relating the Leadership: This poem is short it remains profound. “Hold fast to dreams for if dreams die life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.” You can hold fast to your dreams each morning by finding a way to refresh this dream and plan your daily agenda. When you fail to keep your dreams at the center of your activities, it is easy to drift and lose sight of the things you value.

“Hold fast to dreams for when dreams go life is a barren field frozen with snow.” Imagine yourself standing in a barren field frozen with snow. This image should move you to take action upon your dreams. The consequence of giving up on your dreams should sound boring and depleting. Furthermore, you want to help your followers realize their dreams, so they do not find themselves in a barren field either.

 

If…. by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream — and not make dreams your master;
If you can think — and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings — nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And which is more: you’ll be a Man, my son!

Relating the Leadership: “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you.” It is necessary that you remain calm when encountering stressful challenges.

Your followers may blame you when things go awry. Thus, you must “trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too.”

To be a successful leader, you must welcome the input from your followers. Allowing others to contribute to the vision will allow you to build a relationship with others. Additionally, this bond will help engage your followers to the mission and vision you put forth.

“If you can wait and not be tired by waiting” to empower your followers means giving them the opportunity to contribute while you wait. Allowing others to develop and grow is a valuable role of the leader. Knowing when to step in and remove obstacles is paramount to creating a successful team.

When the team achieves goals be aware that even greater accomplishments may be around the corner. You want to recognize those members of the team that made it possible and avoid looking “too good, nor talk too wise.”

“If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two impostors just the same” you will be steadfast and find greater success that may be looming. You want to welcome triumph but be aware that greater success can be found and move forward by setting new goals. At the same time, disaster brings with it the equivalent of the seed of success. Each disaster can offer you valuable insights and teach lessons that can be rewarding if you keep taking action.

“If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken” implies the significance of serving as an authentic leader. Unfortunately, life is not always rosy, and your followers must be able to trust your words and actions. Losing trust can be the first sign of future problems. Therefore, “stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools.” Recognize the contributions of others. These worn-out tools will always play an important role as others want to feel connected to others on the team and the greater purpose.

“If you can make one heap of all your winnings and risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, and lose, and start again at your beginnings,” The behaviors that make you a successful leader will always be useful and they are transferrable to other situations.

“Hold on when there is nothing in you except the will which says to them: “hold on!”” Drive on, overcome the challenges that appear, as they will only make you stronger and serve others more effectively.

“If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, or walk with kings — nor lose the common touch,” your followers want you to keep them in mind even when you taste success. Not all things that glitter are gold so appreciate success, but understand those that help you along the way. “Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.” All goals are achievable if you stay focused, develop a strategic plan, and utilize the resources you have at your disposal.

I would leave to know what these poems about leadership mean to you.  Perhaps you are aware of other famous poems that speak to you about leadership.  Leave a comment below.

 

 

 

About the Author David

David Moriarty writes about leadership, life purpose, and cancer recovery. He is a teacher who works with youth. Previously he overcame his battle with cancer. Currently he is pursuing a degree in leadership.

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