I have said it hundreds of times, and I truly mean it. I am no leader. But I do know what leaders look like, what they act like, what they do, how they handle themselves…and I am definitely not one of those people. But I hear it all the time for folks.
You are a natural leader.
People just seem to want to follow you.
I cringe every single time I hear these words. Because I am not a leader. I have said it before, I follow the Edgar Friendly principle of leadership: I get things done; sometimes people come along.
I am an individual that likes to get things done. I am a problem solver. I do like getting information and resources into the hands of people who do make the decisions. In the military, I was referred to as a “dog robber” or a “scrounger” because I managed to take things that were useless to my unit, and trade those to other units to get things that were useful for us. One year, we needed a Connex Shed. Those things aren’t small. They are the cargo containers that you see on the decks of transoceanic ships. You can park three full-sized SUVs inside these things. I traded carpeted floor tiles for a raised floor (three-hundred of them) to a Naval unit based in Rota, Spain for a Connex Shed. And I even got the naval unit to deliver it to us in Germany by truck. Right to our doorstep. Getting things done is what I know how to do. I am never worried about what something was built for – I always looked at its utility value. What can it do?
“I’m no leader; I do what I have to do, and sometimes people come along.”
Like I said, I get things for the people who make the decisions – the people who are the leaders. I have worked under good leaders, and some of the very worst. I have worked for extremely hard-working leaders, and some of the laziest souls you will ever meet. I have seen the qualities of both. And because I have seen those qualities, the upcoming Presidential cycle in America scares the shit right out of me. Every single one of these candidates have the scariest qualities that I have seen in bad leaders. Every single one of them. Its almost as if we have decided to hold a Presidential election with the worst possible candidates we can find.
But I completely grok the whys of it too. We drag every candidate’s entire personal history through the mud. We scrutinize their every step in every location to see where they stumble and fall. We require them to know the ins and outs of every single situation and come up with potential solutions, which when examined show a total disregard for the way laws are truly mustered through our governmental process. And even more so, the “solutions” have no financial capacity for survival under the tight budget constraints that the United States should be operating. We set every single candidate up for failure, or drive them away from the process because something about their familial connections may be repugnant to one sector of society or another. And that’s just the starting course. We, literally, set an impossibly high bar, and are let down in every cycle by the lack of good candidates that we get compared to the last election cycle. Holy shit, what we were expecting? We slam any moderate candidate that comes down the line, and extoll the virtues of each extreme member of either the Republican or Democrat parties. The smaller, lesser known third parties have to be outrageous just to get any press, which drives any sensible voter away from them and into the arms of the Republican or Democratic candidate from whom they were wanting to find an alternative to. What are we expecting??
We sure aren’t expecting leaders. Leaders are people who understand compromise. Leaders understand what areas have give and take, and what other areas require a hard, uncompromising stance. Leaders communicate not just with the people who agree with their plan of action, but also with those who disagree. Leaders listen, understand, and redraw plans where compromise makes sense. Leaders empathize not only with those who agree with them, but also with those who disagree with them. Leaders do not antagonize. Leaders do not mock. Leaders keep control of their emotions during the heat of discussion, and insure that the topic never slips away. Leaders do not do outrageous things or fire off inflammatory comments just to get attention. Leaders understand that consensus does not always mean that they (the leaders) get their way on an issue.
But I know this: I’m no leader. I’m the one who puts plans into action, even when I disagree with the plan. I make sure that things get done. I’m not a leader. And neither are any of the people we have running for President during this election cycle.