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Of Carbon and Silicon
Tuesday, 20 September 2011
A philosophical treatise on leadership

"Stuffy title much?"
Yes it is, and it probably doesn't accurately reflect the content of this entry. So, anyway, if you didn't just get bored to death by the title, here is what I have to say about stuff at the moment.

I'm sure you've seen those campy "motivational" posters that bosses like to put up around their workspaces to inspire their underlings to quit playing the "tasering-that-gnome" minigame from the questionable renter's insurance website and get back to work. Well, several such posters line the walls of the corridor I walk down to get to my maths class every Tuesday and Thursday. I never really took notice of any until today... precisely why, I have no idea. Nonetheless, I inexplicably took notice of a poster portraying a lion over the word "Leadership" and a list of traits that a leader should have. The first trait was "Leaders never falter."

Now, it could be that I'm a student of philosophy and, as such, have simply been re-wired to split hairs, but it seems to me that the qualification, "never", in this trait is something of an absolute (that is, "never" has the meaning of "not ever", making it impossible to deviate from a predetermined path), thereby making this trait impossible to achieve.
We are not robots. We have not been programmed with a concrete set of parameters and subroutines which allow us to never show fear, anxiety, or indecision. As such, even the most well-composed person, in a position of leadership or not, will exhibit one or all of these many times throughout their life. However, if one happens to be a leader -- say, the President of the United States -- it is their responsibility to pretend as though they are as unflappable as that poster says they should be. The mark of a great leader is to appear calm and composed in the face of almost certain defeat. Can one honestly say that Winston Churchill never once exhibited signs of stress? The Luftwaffe was regularly destroying parts of his country, for God's sake, never mind the fact that his own life was in constant jeopardy, simply being opposition to Hitler. Regardless, he never appeared to show stress when giving speeches or making public appearances.

So, in conclusion, I would say that the next printing of that "Leadership" poster should be edited to add the following qualification...
"Leaders never appear to falter."

Posted by theniftyperson at 1:53 PM CDT

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