By Matt Sabo, Consociate Media Writer and Strategist
Bad leaders don’t exist.
Let me put that another way. There is no such thing as a bad leader.
Either you lead or you don’t.
Being a leader conveys commanding a group, or organization, or team. Leading is guiding or directing in a course of action.
Let’s say I am leading a group of people on a hike on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. There’s well-marked and well-worn trails to follow. I know this because I’ve been privileged enough to have recently been there with my family.
There are signs of warning along the paths. That tell you to the effect that, as if you can’t see for yourself, rather severe implications and potentialities await for leaving the trail. There are also places that are particularly precarious that have railings. To keep you in. And safe.
Say I were to hop the fence in one of these particularly precarious places. As I was leading my group of hikers. And plummet violently to my death.
Would the people in my group, who I surely hope didn’t follow me, say, “Well, now there’s a bad leader.”
Probably not. They would say, “Well, now there’s a fool.”
But when someone who is supposed to be leading or commanding a group, or organization, or team does really stupid things and leads people over a cliff, we say, “That’s a bad leader.”
No. That’s a fool.
Don’t confuse leadership with foolishness.
Jocko Willink is built like an NFL linebacker. He is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and a former decorated SEAL Team Three leader who led men into the darkest places of combat in the urban warfare of Ramadi, Iraq, in 2007. The city was retaken and Willink returned to train, instruct and mentor our elite warriors.
I heard him interviewed on Tim Ferris’ podcast and when asked what makes a good leader, he gave an answer that might surprise you: Humility. Leaders are humble, they listen and are coachable, Willink said.
There’s an absence of arrogance. They don’t point fingers. They accept responsibility.
Leaders serve because their interest is in elevating the group. Not themselves.
There may be times a leader will take his group into unpredictable, perilous places. It happens every day actually in business.
Maybe that’s you. Your are tasked with leading people. So then.
Show them the way.
Listen. Adjust. Move forward.
Leadership encompasses judgment, prudence and supervision. Which signifies actually caring for someone.
A fool lacks judgment and prudence. A fool simply doesn’t care.
Which are you?
The choices are: A leader or a fool.