About a week ago I was reading the big Sunday paper, and in the book section there appeared an article about a spate of new books chronicling the “end” of something. There was one about the end of marriage, the end of family, the end of this, that and the other thing. A couple of days ago, I ran into Dale Welch at the post office. A quick conversation ensued about the current goings on in our little world. Thinking about that conversation and the goat roping that now passes for federal governance, I wondered if someone had penned a book about the end of leadership. If they haven’t, then they need to do so.
Leadership should be seen as one part, albeit a critical part, of the broad field of expertise known as management. A lot of people these days want to be the boss, the big honcho, the director or the president. In my humble opinion, many of the individuals who wind up in senior management positions have completely forgotten, if they ever knew, about the role of leadership.
Let’s face it, a lot of us, if we were to find ourselves in a leadership position, would most enjoy the role of benevolent dictator. We would love it if we could give all our subjects everything they wanted. We would like to shower them with gifts and riches and have them become ever more loyal to their “leader.” We would love it if our word was law and every utterance from our tongue was a commandment, not to be questioned.
Here is the fly in that ointment: Leadership is the hard part of being the boss. Leadership requires that you be able to guide the endeavor under your command in the direction of sustainability and achieve an outcome that is good for the entire body, whether that body is a business or a government entity. The decisions that are the correct ones will not always be the most popular. More frequently, they will be very unpopular with those being managed or governed.
Our current leaders, both local and national, have grown horribly fond of kicking the can down the road. By the end of the current administration’s second term, they will have shackled the American people, their children and grandchildren, with more debt than was amassed by all previous administrations since the beginning of this blessed country.
As for our little part of this country, here in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, we play the same game, only on a different scale. When hard choices need to be made, we avoid them. We don’t carry massive debt, we just raise taxes. To quote the late Margaret Thatcher, the problem with that approach is that sooner or later you run out of other peoples’ money.
As a child, we used to set up a tin can in front of the chicken house, where it was smooth and sandy, and you could see the circle drawn in the dust for the can. We played kick the can and had a good old time. But, sooner or later, you have to grow up.