Many wise men have stated some universal things that all boil down to one fact about which I think it is safe to say…’you can take to the bank’.
In essence: It is the nature of leadership that, one; it attracts the type of personality that is fundamentally corrupt, and two; by the very nature of such a personality, these leaders(elected, appointed or ordained by some god or other) do not care about those that they lead. Why is this such a difficult concept for the common man to grasp? I dunno. It seems obvious to me. Maybe because, although I have met many ‘leaders’…in politics, industry, religion…I have yet to meet one that is chiefly concerned with those that he governs.
I will even count myself among them. I enjoyed management positions for many years, and I can tell you with no hesitation, that the welfare of those that I led, (beyond what such concern could do for me in the short term) was the last thing on my mind. That is the nature of leadership. To manage. To manipulate. To use.
This is not a secret. This is in every management training course. Management is manipulation. To sign on with this program of manipulating people speaks to the integrity of those that lead. So why do we think that our ‘leaders’ will somehow turn over a new leaf and begin putting their own benefit on the back burner to concentrate on what their followers want? Why indeed.
And yet people continually petition their politicians for change that will benefit the masses. Until a person with power over others sees the ‘what’s in it for me’ first…such change will not happen. When a leader is begged to consider the true will of those that he leads, and it doesn’t coincide with what he wants or needs first, all that it accomplishes is to force the one in charge to lie. Lie about what he is doing in his office, and what he intends to do for his flock. The only ones to please with any ‘leader’s’ policy are the ones above them. Surely this is obvious. Everyone has a boss. Heaven knows that the first thing that struck me when ascending to management, was the amount of those to please above me had quadrupled. Where as a worker-bee, I had but one bosses’ ass to kiss, as a middle manager, I was on my knees constantly. Of course, however, in politics as in production management, the goal of an upward mobility is to pare down the number of derrieres presenting themselves to you for oral genuflection. Until you are the one seeking such worship from everyone below you, and you answer only to yourself. A consummation devoutly to be wished. But rarely attained.
When I had been in middle management for a few years and was completing the image of myself as a man-among-men. Seeing myself as more capable than my fellow bees, well it followed that I also saw a man in the mirror that was ‘better’ than those he led. A dangerous tendency lying in the hearts of the best of us, to be sure.
So I was promoted several times and then transferred to leadership of my own district. Among the immediate changes that such a move demanded was to head a weekly meeting of engineers from several companies that purchased our product. I was the man. I had to update, defend and answer questions about my company’s products on a weekly basis to an audience of men wearing suits that cost more than my car. Needless to say, I was tongue-tied at the first meeting. These seasoned professionals took pity on my having been thrust into an awesome responsibility at such a young age and with little to no speaking skills. I soon warmed to it however. It was my job and I did it to the best of my abilities…which were improving constantly. To the point at which, I looked forward to my time in the spotlight, and garnered respect for the wit and ease with which I discharged my meetings. No harm done. But was there?
I tell you this because I understand the mentality behind those hooked on power. Even the smallest amount. It is addictive. It is a glorious feeling to know that you are taken seriously…whether you should or shouldn’t be.
But that’s as may be. As a supervisor, I learned that people are merely tools to be used. Babysat for the most part. But using the manipulative tricks of rewarding profitable behaviour, to chiding the child in my workers over failure to complete a task that no one in their right mind would want to do, I understood the limits to the direction of leaders that the common man will brook. As a middle manager, I learned that the right low-level decisions could make or break me. As an executive manager, I learned to see people as not only tools but commodities. I learned to lie big. To shift blame. To cheat. To steal. All in the name of leadership. Machiavellian self-preserving hubris.
No…I didn’t find Jesus. My ego had grown to the point that at one juncture I fought with the CEO of my company over an issue about which he was wrong…and of course, I was right. His ‘leadership’ position trumped mine, and I resigned over it. Hallelujah. I quickly fell back to earth where I belong. But not without taking a few important lessons with me. About power. About leaders. And about the world in which we struggle under ‘leaders’.
So when I see ‘leaders’ in our struggle against what we see as the most potent international force of “the tribe”, stepping up to the leadership plate, I gotta pause. My contention is that we don’t need leadership in any way, shape or form. It is too lofty a position even for the most trustworthy among us. And I remember that along with such leadership positions comes a lot of vain preening and total disregard for anyone ‘below’ you.
Now, I don’t tell you all this as some sort of excuse for those that have gained power over you and have abused such artificial office.
But to counter the old saying that “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. As in my case, the first part of that maxim can be true. But generally speaking, for those that would corrupt a company, a nation…a world. The corruption was already there within these leaders. You simply give them the power to use it.