The following post was written by Dave Ryan, author of the HR Official blog.
Usually when we speak of the terms 'Leaders' or 'Leadership', it is used in a positive context to describe an endearing quality that an individual posses. More often than not that is the proper context, but we also need to be wary because leaders are not always good, in fact history has taught us that very charismatic leaders appear to be wonderful, only for the masses to find out later of their sheer evil.
I have come to know this as a nearly life-long resident of the State of Illinois. We have had some really bad leadership in this state. Now I have become cynical almost to the point of being jaded.
For the record Illinois has had more than our fair share of bad apples. But my point is this, look past the leader and what they say. If more people would question leaders about what they say and what they do some of these poor folks would not stray so far off course. I don‘t know what happens to folks when they attain power and influence. It seems to overwhelm their moral compass and they lose sight of right and wrong, and they can rationalize anything in the name of greed.
Fortunately many if not most (at least outside Illinois) leader are honest, moral, God-fearing people who do the right thing and are guided by that do-the-right-thing attitude.
When I ponder leaders I often think about the past and President Regan talking to Mikhail Gobachev, they were leaders learning to try to trust each other.
R squared was just saying check it out. That’s what I am talking about. We can run down the list. If more folks had questioned Hitler, well,,,. If some folks, in South Africa would have said “Hey Jim, what’s really in the Kool Aid” perhaps that might have turned out differently. And not nearly enough folks questioned Ken Lay at Enron, had they, we would not have had the situation that we did there. Those folks were good leaders but they led – the wrong way.
So what you need to know about leadership is this – question it, make sure you are headed in the right direction with your Company, your group, your family. You don’ t have to be disrespectful or rude in doing so, but always be wary. You never know what a leader’s true motives are… especially if you live in Illinois.