Thought of the Day

Curing Our Addiction to Mediocre Leaders

mediocre leaders

Let’s pretend for a sec for one reason or another I needed surgery of the non-emergency variety so I had time to choose a surgeon. Now, I don’t know about you, but cutting my body open for the purposes of patching me up is a pretty effing important job, so I’d want the best surgeon I could find. You know what else is an insanely important job? Being a leader. So why do we accept shitty mediocre leaders?

We’ll first address the very obvious elephant/donkey in the room: the two major candidates in the 2016 US election are… wait for it… NOT GOOD LEADERS. If there was a job interview for the role of president and I was the hiring manager, neither Trump nor Clinton would make it past me looking at their respective LinkedIn pages. And yet one of them is likely to get elected (sorry Jill Stein) despite having numerous qualities for making poor leaders. I get that they both have die hard supporters, but it’s not like humanity has a good track record of excellency in positions of power.

What makes this even more difficult to tackle is the fact that leaders exist on many different levels, not just the tippity top of the food chain. They exist in local politics, businesses, law enforcement, etc. And, unfortunately, I see far too many instances of people placed in leadership roles that aren’t fit for a wide variety of reasons and they somehow retain that power.

So this begs the question, “What are the requirements for a good leader?” There may be an ‘ideal’ for a good leader, but I don’t know if it’s put into practice as much as, say, the ‘ideal’ for a good surgeon. The latter is pretty clearly defined. So here’s MY criteria (and the reason why many present day leaders don’t have my respect):

  1. Leaders cannot be self-serving in their positions
  2. A leader represents the interests of all who fall under said leadership, not a subset
  3. Leaders should embrace transparency with those who fall under said leadership
  4. Leaders should seek to improve iteratively and deliberately
  5. Leaders should be open to the voices of those they lead

If you notice, none of my requirements have anything to do with the day-to-day functions and tasks of any given leadership position; this is all about character. That’s the secret sauce that’s missing most times. Without it, the people we call leaders aren’t actually leaders; they’re just people doing a job.

I’ll end off with this: great leaders are often organic. People gravitate toward them and the corrupt fear them. Anything less is a pretender and, in my opinion,we need to begin clearly defining what is acceptable as a leader so we stop allowing anything less to take power. And that, my friends, definitely needs to start at the tippity top.

Peace out, party people.

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