Leaders and Leadership

What is leadership? What does it mean? Who do you consider a leader?

lead·er·ship (dər-shĭp’) n.

1. The process of leading.

2. Those entities that perform one or more acts of leading.

3. The ability to affect human behavior so as to accomplish a mission designated by the leader.

These three definitions are the generic definition.

1. The position or office of a leader: ascended to the leadership of the party.

2. Capacity or ability to lead: showed strong leadership during her first term in office.

3. A group of leaders: met with the leadership of the nation’s top unions.

4. Guidance; direction: The business prospered under the leadership of the new president.

These four interestingly enough revolve around politics and business.

152,000,000 hits on Google for leadership- in other words LOTS of words on leadership…

I’m going with ‘my’ take on leadership here-

A leader is one who sets the positive example. I think there are three legs professionalism, integrity, and honesty that are the basis for a good leader. The good leader knows when they accept the authority; they also accept the responsibility and the accountability of being a leader.

They may be a janitor or a General, but if they set the example, show the people who work for them that they are not afraid to get their hands dirty, willingly give credit, and shoulder blame when things go wrong; people will cheerfully follow them. These people also will make a decision; they do not hesitate to do what is necessary given any particular situation. They also have no problems admitting they did something wrong.

On the other hand, I do believe the POWER of a position or office makes people think they are leaders, when in reality they are nothing but abusers of power. They are normally the ones who take credit for anything new or important, never make a decision that can be tied to them; shirking the responsibility by pawning failure off on subordinates. Ironically, some of these people go VERY far, because they simply do not care about anything but more power and more prestige. Since these people tend to climb the ladder by jumping organization to organization, the new bosses very seldom find out about the people the climber has abused on the way up or their inability to make decisions.

In the military, Fire/Rescue and Law Enforcement leaders and leadership take on a different perspective. This is because of the potential for life and death situations; including the requirement to make decisions on the fly. Having said this, I will admit I have seen bad leaders in the military and friends have given me many examples of bad leadership in both the Fire Service and Law Enforcement.

Bureaucracies on the other hand, fear real leaders. They want to stay in their little niche, don’t rock the boat, get promoted and never make a decision… I think bureaucracies are perfect examples of the Peter Principal in action. I also think they tend to be very petty, self serving, and will go out of their way to penalize those who push a bureaucrat out of his/her little comfort zone.

Where am I going with this?

Well, I’m getting worried about America- I do not see the younger generation coming up with any real leaders. I see a lot of power hungry people, who will do anything to get more money, play every card they can to advance, and don’t care about how they treat others. When I talk to the young Sailors and Marines I come in contact with, that is a recurring theme… The military is the FIRST time they have ever had responsibility AND accountability.

I also see political correctness stifling leaders. You cannot promote a leader today without checking to see if the right numbers of whatever flavor of HR mandates and/or quotas has been met. If you don’t, you sure as hell will get sued by somebody…

I don’t see John Q. Public standing up and demanding accountability from the current leadership and ANY level… Many of the blogs I read have repeated themes of abusers of this or that system, with no leader stepping forward to make people accountable for their actions.

I’m not even going to get into the lawsuits, ACLU, and the rest of that mess…

We are at war TODAY with terrorism. It is not a country, it is individuals and organizations who flow from country to country. The stated goal is death to America, they will not negotiate, other than to gain time; they will not be ‘redeemed’ by faith; they will not quit until either we are dead or they are…

What I would ask each of you to do is to look at who you believe to be leaders, people YOU would follow, and vote them into office in 2008. Don’t believe the sound bites, really look into the candidates backgrounds and abilities.

If we don’t, I’m really afraid we will see terrorism here on a scale unlike anything the US has ever seen. Believe me, you do NOT want that to happen…

If you made it this far, thanks for taking the time to read this 🙂


Leaders and Leadership — 9 Comments

  1. You know, most of the time, the very act of someone telling me that they want a particular leadership position, makes me think that they should never have it.

  2. Good Point! Most of the real leaders I have served under were proud to be the CO, and scared shitless they would screw it up.
    The bad ones, they revelled in the power of being the CO.

  3. I keep having people trying to get me to leave what I do and go work on the hill. I want no part of it. Is it because I believe I can’t do it? No. But I feel I am more effective in keeping a small group of the populaion safe every day by just being out in the field, than by leading for the sake of leading. I’ve told it’s a waste of talent, that I should aspire to an office of policy that could be as ineffective as not. At least out here, my actions have a discernable, tangible value. That’s enough for me.

  4. Dead on the money RT- Can I use that 🙂

    Scully- By definition a leader. The ability to effect change in a postitive direction and the desire to resist “promotion” to an ineffective position just for money make you one of the few. Also a job well done, that helps keep us alive isn’t bad either 🙂

    Believe me, I do appreciate it, flying 200k miles a year world wide…

  5. Very nice. I agree 100 percent about the good and bad leaders in the military itself. The thing is, sometimes much later, I was able to realize that even the few bad ones taught me something, if only how not to get something done.