Leadership, Fear and Control

Leadership is not control. Leadership is not fear. These things can be useful, such as individual tools to a carpenter, but in and of themselves they are not the art of woodworking, so to speak.

There are many people who believe that leadership is the sum of control and fear. These types of leaders lead out of their own fear and their own deep sense of insecurity. These are the worst kind of leaders.

They often find themselves in positions of authority because A. they seek them out, and B. they impress the uninitiated with over-confident words and a strong hand on the tiller. They are easy to detect but panicky boards and hiring committees, seeking only to fill a role, fail to dig too deeply and let them slip into organizations.

I have come over the years to recognize that these are people who are so paranoid of seeming to not be their own person, of looking as if they are being controlled, that they will do everything they can to avoid a recommendation or suggestion from someone else.

They will work so hard at this that they will even ignore what they recognize as the best course of action if it comes as a suggestion from another person. They would run a ship aground if a crewman pointed to land ahead just to spite the crewman and to appear in charge and outside the sway of others.

Ironically these are the easiest people to control. They are also the worst to put in charge of anything or anyone. The simplest reverse psychology that could be spotted by a 5 year old would suffice to move them where you want.

Oh sure they will see it coming but they will be helpless to do anything about it as they are captive by the power of their own fragile ego, seething at being incapable of doing anything other than the opposite of what you suggest. Their mind is their own prison and everyone around them is the warden.

The good news is that their tenure is rarely long except at the most incompetent of organizations. They tend to destroy themselves quickly through poor decisions and paranoia and move on to spread their poison elsewhere.

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