Why Being A Loner Makes You A Great Leader

Great leaders think, and thinking requires solitude. That’s the message given to the graduating class of West Point. Some more quotes:

Solitude is one of the most important necessities of true leadership.


We have a crisis of leadership in America because our overwhelming power and wealth, earned under earlier generations of leaders, made us complacent, and for too long we have been training leaders who only know how to keep the routine going.


Thinking means concentrating on one thing long enough to develop an idea about it.

With technology enveloping us all, especially the younger generation, will it soon be possible to create an original thought not tied to the content we’re consuming?

Read The Entire Speech at The American Scholar (HT: Danger & Play)

24 thoughts on “Why Being A Loner Makes You A Great Leader”

  1. This is a fantastic text. I’ve read it twice before.
    Also he mentions David P:
    “Look at the most successful, most acclaimed, and perhaps the finest soldier of his generation, General David Petraeus. He’s one of those rare people who rises through a bureaucracy for the right reasons. He is a thinker. He is an intellectual. ”
    Well, he also has a penis. 😉

    1. There is no block to leadership through being the proud owner of a penis.
      It may be a different leadership to that of the vagina, but no less valuable for it.

  2. Let us not forget that Adolf Hitler spent his early 20s a homeless and penniless artist and day laborer on the streets of Vienna before WWI. He spent his days debating Marxists and slept in a homeless shelter at night. And he evolved into one of Europe’s most charismatic leaders.
    How can you possibly learn to rely on yourself if you don’t spend time with yourself and develop your own decision making skills?

    1. You also need to develop you ability to coexist with others, Odds.
      Hitler was rather deficient at that, wasn’t he??

      1. Not really, Hitler’s main deficiency was there wasn’t enough of him to go around for everyone and when people felt Hitler wasn’t giving them face time in his party they decided to go be a traitor. His other major deficiency was misjudging how war hungry the French and English were.
        How the hell was Hitler to predict that taking a small patch of land stolen from Germany in WW1 by the allies would lead to WW2?

  3. It seems strange that being an introvert, or having certain introverted qualities, would make you a better leader, but it’s been seen over and over throughout history.

  4. I have noticed that loners and shy people in general are infinitely better at gauging peoples feelings. If they break out of their loner habit they tend to be much more charismatic then attention whores who think the world revolves around them.

    1. Those who lost childhood innocence very early usually have highly acute antennae. For whatever reason, they activated those sensory instruments very early and once developed, they are lifelong.
      It is also often associated with a loss of trust, usually for good situational reasons but at the expense of trusting others easily later on in life.
      I’m afraid that they are no natural fighters in political dog-eat-dog battles though: they usually lost playground fights, so if they are baited too much, their response can be pretty violent.
      After all, losing your temper being baited is a greater crime than going to war on a false prospectus.
      Those loners who understand the pain of loss can visualise 45 year old mothers with dead children, knowing they will never be a mother again.
      Is winning an election worth imposing such agony on anyone??
      Not to the loner, but to the extravert politician, quite possibly.
      They are uniquely capable of diagnosing the problems, can often shape policies and visions, but usually are not suited to fighting the trench battles of implementation

      1. I somewhat identify with what you say here. And it makes me feel guilty, because to some extent if i have the solution to a problem i should be more intent on implementing it. Something i’ve been working on, but surely, it’s a challenge.

  5. The thing is once you spent enough time alone you lose interest in “leading” other people. Leading people is for extraverts, not introverts.

    1. Yeah, the loner is a sage. The leader is a king, an extravert, a people person. What do you want a return of? Kings or sages?

    2. I believe that is the sole reason that they are such great leaders. They aren’t interested in what other people think and are thus able to make the hard decisions. The current leaders of the USA don’t seem interested in making the hard decisions, just the easy ones that get them more money.

    3. I think extroverts tend to make bad leaders, it is the introverts who tend to be the better leaders. Loners make better leaders, they can view themselves outside the spectrum. Extroverts just talk too much.

    4. Exactly. Not only do you lose interest, you actively want to see them go over the cliff, so you quietly encourage them to do so.

  6. this is gold I have a battalion board coming up soon and I should totally try to remember this speech and use bits of it to try and explain my slightly introverted nature and how it can actually be very helpful in military leadership.

  7. If you wish to lead men, you must be prepared to turn your back on them.

  8. thanks for this article…. i went to boarding school and in the holidays, ended up on my own alot of the time, having lost touch with friends in my home town….. it was a bummer at 13 but by 16 I was going off to concerts on my own, and now frankly if given the choice i just want to be on my own. it’s so much more interesting to live in the present moment, than babble like a monkey in a large group of friends.

  9. whispers, elect useless, comma as world leader… for eternity ask, for more information to hear my autobiography…

  10. Too much so. The bf runs a startup and he is way way way too happy to spend time by himself

  11. I am a loner, 18 year old male, and this article I would like to say is very true. I love researching and listening to the NPR radio station. I have an idea that involves change to this world. This world to me seems to be very crazy. That is, because of all the crimes, ISIS for example, that have been formed within this world. I am, as of now, started writing a series that will contain all that I have knowledge of the world, contemporary issues, subjects, and history. With solutions within short stories. But there’s one thing that I have trouble: How could a loner lead a network of people with very little experience in interaction and socially?

    1. Don’t bother. The world’s fucked. There’s nothing you can do that will change that basic fact.
      Listen to the Billy Joel song “Angry Young Man.” That’s how you will end up if you try that: frustrated and defeated.

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