Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Leadership (03/14/05)
TITLE: Don't Follow the Leader
By Matthew Morgan
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*Le Oxymoron - French Warfare
Do not follow leaders without proven track records. Leaders do not develop overnight. They must prove themselves step by step, battle by battle. No one illustrates this better than the French who have lost nearly every military encounter in their history – including their own revolution - showing that not every country is meant to be a major war power. But what the French lack in military might, they compensate for in culture with their sublime traditions like Monet, the quiche, and Sophie Marceau. Rule number one: if the French wish to lead you to dinner, then you should follow; if they are off to hunt dinner, run away, run away.
*Visions of Custer
Do not follow leaders without vision. Vision is an important leadership quality – and not just as in the five senses. Vision is the ability to foresee consequences prior to their inception and, hopefully, avoid them. If General George Armstrong Custer had gained some vision before his ride across the Montana prairie, perhaps he could have enjoyed his other vision in his later years reading books by his fireplace. Rule number two: do not follow a leader who somehow misses seeing thousands Native Americans in the middle of a large, flat stretch of land.
*Think-Tank’s on Empty
Do not follow leaders who cannot make decisions. A leader’s role is defined by his decision making. Sometimes he has the luxury of a few days to make a decision; sometimes these have to be made instantaneously. As a result, the leader one chooses to follow must possess the ability to think. If the leader happens to be a comet, a statue, or Mel Carnahan in the 2000 election, then perhaps a different leader would be a more prudent choice. Rule number three: do not follow a leader who cannot think by himself – unless he hires a cabinet to think for him.
Do not follow leaders without integrity. Leaders must stand by their convictions. Honesty is crucial to being trusted by one’s followers. During the 1960’s the American found themselves staring down launch silos in Cuba. They did not start an additional war with Canada at that time. This logic was obviously lost on Adolph Hitler, who, whether out of boredom or spite, decided to forsake his integrity, split his forces, and attack Russia. Rule number four: do not follow a leader who cannot make up his mind which countries to viciously bomb out of existence.
*Attila the Stressed
Do not follow leaders who cannot handle stress. Any leadership position is fraught with stress. A good leader finds healthy outputs – such as shopping, paintball, or squeezing those little squishy balls distributed at trade shows. Leaders not able to handle stress are given nicknames like “The Hun” and spend their free time ravaging Asia and cannibalizing their children. Rule number five: don’t follow a leader who is given to stress-eating – especially if he eats his own sons, or anyone else’s children for that matter.
Do not follow leaders who lack accountability. Credentials are important in any leadership position. Medical doctors are held accountable to state boards – a necessity realized by the joke, “What do you call the person who graduates last from medical school? Doctor.” Leaders need a sense of accountability; without it, they lose their bearings. David Koresh had a great mind and a good business sense – not to mention a way with the ladies. But his lack of accountability brings us to rule number six: do not follow a leader who claims to be the messiah but has to have UPS deliver his firearms.
Armed with this knowledge, people should be able to understand the difference between good and bad leaders. But they must not forget the last rule. One must always remember to have a sense of humor. People disappoint, make mistakes, and say stupid things, but the ability to laugh is important. Laugh, and the world laughs with you. Make a mistake, and they might just follow you anyway.
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