Maybe this should read “Leaders of the World – We Are On To You.” Would it make a difference? I think so.
The world of leaders in the 21st century is changing constantly. I am not talking about the world around them rather I refer to the world they construct before them - the world that exists in their minds, hearts, and for some of them, their souls. I am not of the mindset that all leaders have the compassion, intention or moral code to lead in a way that preserves all the rights, responsibilities and fundamental freedoms that our founding fathers sacrificed for future generations.
The question begs to be answered, when does a leader listen to their heart or sense of direction or the direction of the people he or she leads? What should the leader do when these two conflict? Is there ever a time when we should compromise with bad leaders?
Does it depend what’s at stake? Or should we tell ourselves, “Let’s wait and see what this person can do. In the meantime, I will give him or her my sought after support”? I say absolutely not!
For us to sacrifice our own dignity and sense of right or wrong leads nowhere but down. It creates an erosion of reality that embeds itself into our everyday way of thinking. The leader with a hidden agenda is a master at convincing us that the fear we are experiencing is mistaken. They want us to believe they know what is best for us and promise to take care of our basic survival needs. Right!
Fear surrounds us these days, greater because of the economic situation in the world. Fear is a two edged sword. Fear serves us when something is drastically wrong and needs to be corrected. Fear also makes us desperate. It paralyzes people to the point of being subdued.
Now, imagine a leader who understands this dynamic and uses it to his or her advantage. What are the clues of a leader who is less than authentic, dishonest or is lacking of humility and integrity? There are several clues but here are a few strong yet subtle ones you should be aware of.
First, ill-intended leaders don’t answer questions. When asked a straight question they have a charming or sophisticated way of either changing the question or ignoring it all together. They will do this especially when the questions are tough and demanding of an answer. The smart listener recognizes rhetoric that goes nowhere when they hear it.
Second, they misplace and use humor inappropriately. How hard is it for us to not join in when the leader makes a joke or behaves in a humorous way over something that is serious? Watch the crowd – nobody contradicts or confronts the leader when everyone is smiling and laughing.
Third, the unauthentic leader tells us what and how to think before we have had the opportunity to think for ourselves. Know that when someone says, “I know you know blah, blah, blah . . . you are being set up. This is a well-guarded secret of the ill-intended leader. It works this way – if this leader can make us dependent on him or her then aren’t we much easier to lead? Or should I say sway?
Remember how dependent the children became in the Pied Piper? How about a leader who says, “I am the leader and I will do it my way.”
Fourth, they promise us the sun AND we will have to do NOTHING to get it. Be weary when the leader says, “If you put your ten eggs in this basket I GUARANTEE you will get 12 chickens!” I guarantee we’ll get nothing more than scrambled eggs! Beware of the leader who states, “I’ll do it for you.” Oh, really?
And what is wrong with doing it ourselves? I, for one, feel more empowered, more aware and a greater sense of self and achievement when I do it myself or at least be an active participant in what I get. You will, too!
Lastly, beware when our leader talks, and talks and talks until we get dizzy listening. The thing we need to ask ourselves is what are they hiding or trying really hard to convince us of? Don’t allow them confuse you.
Confusion is the easiest way to get someone to say YES! We say yes because we are vulnerable and we want them to stop talking! Constant talking is a sure sign telling us to sit up, listen closely and investigate everything we are hearing. Sound like anyone you know?
Note: if the ill-intended leader uses a threatening word like, ‘crisis’ or ‘catastrophic’ or ‘danger’ over and over implying that if we don’t act or follow NOW then there will be doom and gloom – stop, challenge and question what is happening. We are more powerful than we imagined. The smart leader knows this about us.
What it really comes down to is, character- theirs, and surprisingly, ours. We should never accept anything less than character that is humble, trustworthy and based on integrity. Shame on the leader who is less than truthful and sincere - paying more attention to power and money. Shame on the person who relies solely on what they are told and forsakes the opportunity to think for themselves.
We need to measure and applaud the leader and the follower for doing right according to strong, proven ethics and values. We can applaud the leader and the follower for holding each other accountable. We will admire the leader and the follower for accepting their shortcomings and not allowing them to intercept the long term plan for growth and productivity.
Yes, our leaders need to listen. Good leaders will become great leaders when they face the heavy responsibility of not only bringing people together but doing the right thing which may involve confronting what is bad. This applies to our governments, our industries, our companies and our communities. Never should we become so complacent that we lose the incentive to realize a promising future others sacrificed for us.
As Admiral Burke said, “All that is needed for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.” I agree. There is no compromise between good and evil.