How does the poem "If" highlight the moral qualities required in a true leader?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The first two stanzas of Rudyard Kipling's "If" discuss the personal struggle that goes on inside of oneself when dealing with moral questions and other people. Kipling teaches about patience and self-control even when others are not treating you respectfully. For example, he describes what patience and self-control would act like by saying, "If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,/ Or being lied about, don't deal in lies" (7-8). If a person can have these two qualities first, then the next few stanzas that describe leadership will come more easily. Leaders "meet with Triumph and Disaster". A true leader, as Kipling suggests, treats "those two imposters just the same". This means that a leader shouldn't become conceited when he succeeds or get down on himself when he fails; a leader should learn from both experiences in a humble way. Throughout the rest of the poem the advice given is basically that people are going to treat you horribly sometimes and a leader will realize that and still maintain his ethics and morals no matter what others do. The youtube link below takes you to a wonderful reading of the poem and the other link takes you to other themes that might help you answer this question further.

 

 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial