Leadership 101

There was a time when the United States was the premier nation in the world by every metric. We led the world in production, our military was the strongest and best trained, and our social influence dominated every inch of the globe. While much of this is still true, it is clear that America is on the decline. Like most things in life, you can’t stay on top forever, especially if you aren’t willing to do what is necessary to ensure your position is stable from the threats around you.

It all comes down to leadership. It is the key to any organization, from small units in the military performing dangerous missions abroad all the way up to massive nations playing a strategic game of global manipulation. The scale doesn’t matter; if you want to win you must have strong, capable leaders who can make the tough decisions when hard times come around. It is surprising how often those situations come around and how often the correct decision can be the most difficult and unpopular one.

You can find endless volumes of literature on what defines a good leader, and I personally received quite a bit of both theoretical as well as hands on training on the subject of leadership during my eleven years as a United States Marine. I suppose by many standards that makes me an expert, but I never tend to think of myself as an expert on anything. The one thing that time and experience has taught me is that there is no substitute for experience. You have to get in there and do it before any knowledge you’ve gained becomes at all useful.

The point I’m trying to make here is that leaders make mistakes, and we have to be understanding of the growth process that comes with someone choosing to step up to serve others in the kinds of leadership positions we ask to be filled. It takes a great deal of courage to put yourself in the spotlight and have your actions questioned and your character judged on a daily basis. The people who genuinely want to sacrifice themselves for the benefit of the people they choose to serve deserve our respect and support.

On the other hand, many people jump into leadership positions not for the benefit of others, but to advance their own agendas. The problem with these sorts of leaders is that they ignore rule number one of leadership: always lead from the front. You see, the only way people truly respect your authority is when you practice what you preach. Obviously you can use fear to get people to do what you want, but that isn’t leadership; it’s coercion. True leaders are not hypocrites. They live their lives the way they tell others to.

Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve seen numerous examples of people in high leadership positions telling the public to behave in one way while doing exactly the opposite when it suits them. This is a pure example of hypocritical behavior. Virtually no one can respect someone who lives by the “do as I say, not as I do” philosophy. If you’re going to put down rules for us to follow, you better well be following those rules yourself. Those who fail to follow their own rules don’t deserve the mantle of leader.

Until we can find a shift in the leadership of our country, I can see little hope that we can turn things around. Our path will continue along our present course until we reach a critical mass, and then some sort of revolution will be required to clean the slate so we can start over again. If we can learn from history, we don’t have to go through this, but it seems that most of us are content to ignore the past and go right on doing all the things that lead to the chaos of civil discontent.

What do you think about leadership in America? Is there anyone left who can turn things around? What would it take to shift our course and get our nation moving in the right direction again? We are still the greatest nation on earth, and we don’t have to go down this dark road we seem set on taking. All it takes is enough people with the right attitude and a true desire to do the right things.

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