April 12, 2020
Simply put, Leadership is the art of motivating a group of people to act toward achieving a common goal and a Leader is the person in the group who possesses the combination of personality and skills to make others want to follow their directions.
Any careful reader of that sentence should instantly be aware of a significant missing factor in those definitions and that is the element of ‘qualitivity’. I’d prefer that we should immediately define the difference between good and bad leadership to include the element of good or bad in the goals that leadership is trying to achieve as well as the elements of good or bad (evil) in the methods the group is using to achieve its’ goal or goals. Since the highest level of leadership skills is expected to be in a country’s leader (or President) let’s start there. Think Adolph Hitler. He definitely had the qualities of leadership and leader as defined in the first sentence. But then, weigh his goals and methods of achieving them against the criteria in the third sentence and I’m sure you will have to agree that he was a very bad, totally evil leader! He led his cheering millions of Germans into a death and destruction scenario that exceeded those of General Hideki Tojo of Japan, and Benito Mussolini of Italy put together. Only Joseph Stalin of Russia, a nefarious ‘leader’ at best, managed to ‘save’ his leadership while sacrificing his people and their freedom in his ‘leadership’ role. Then, consider Winston Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who both had to overcome serious elements of public distrust during the war, and maybe you will accept the need for ‘qualitivity’ in assessing leadership skills. I consider Hitler, Tojo, Mussolini and Stalin extreme examples of ‘failed’ leadership and Churchill and Roosevelt superb examples of ‘good, if not great’ leadership.
I have to ‘fast forward’ fifty-five years before I find a very significant ‘next example’ of failed leadership–George ‘W.’ Bush. He managed to demonstrate a brief flourish of good leadership after the 9/11 (2001) terrorist attack but then abdicated his leadership responsibility totally in turning over his presidential power to his Vice President Dick Cheney and Cheney’s sidekick, Donald Rumsfeld. We all should know how that ‘failed leadership’ turned out as we are still paying for the chaos it caused in the Middle-East. And now, I can slow forward to the latest, and on-going, example of failed leadership—Donald J. Trump.
My morning passed very quietly and with much difficulty. Every time I went to my little office and opened the Blog #65 icon on my desktop I found myself looking at that last line in the paragraph above and couldn’t begin to type. After sitting at the computer for sometimes quite a few minutes and not being able to think of a way to deal with this issue, I would just hit the ‘save’ button, then get up, turn my office light out, and head for the kitchen to get another cup of coffee. Then, back to my office, the same problem, but, this time, I put my cap with a sun visor on and went out in the garden and watered the new iris beds for half an hour. It’s a beautiful day in the valley, the grass in the fields is greening up, the early flowers are blooming (but it’s too early for the Rio Grande cottonwoods to start leafing out) and the temperature today is in the mid-70’s. Feeling that I needed some advice from a good friend, I went out to visit with Hubris in the corral. I fed Hubris a few carrots and asked him if he knew anything about how to deal with ‘writer’s block’. Hubris munched on the last carrot for a few extra seconds and then turned to look at me and, with just a bit of sarcasm in his voice, said, ”Lou, maybe you are trying to write about an element in a person’s character that just isn’t there?” I gave Hubris another carrot, a pat on his rump, and promised him that we would go for a ride tomorrow evening—after I finished this blog. As I’ve probably told you several times before, Hubris is one, very smart, horse.
As usual, Hubris was right. I couldn’t criticise what wasn’t there. Our President, Donald J. Trump has absolutely no leadership skills or leadership ability. Worse, he shows no inclination to lead but a great desire to divide. In fact, one of the ‘monikers’ the media has applied to him (quite appropriately, I believe!) is “the Great Divider-in-Chief”. I suspect that one of the defining moments of his Presidency will be his reply to the reporter’s questions about our country’s lack of preparedness to deal with an epidemic that had become a pandemic: “I wasn’t responsible for that.” Sorry, Donald Trump, and his hatchet man John Bolton, had personally dismantled the two main government agencies responsible for preparedness in case a new epidemic equivalent to the Spanish Flu, SARS or AIDS, occurred years ago. (For exact details, please re-read my Blog #62, dated March 27, 2020.) If a person watches Trump closely, that person will quickly realize there is only one person in the world that Donald J. Trump really cares about—and that person is himself. A leader, Donald J. Trump isn’t! As I have written before, Donald J. Trump is an ego-maniac, a liar, a bully, a draft dodger, a coward, a con-artist, and a few other terrible things but, he is not a leader!
Unfortunately, our country needs a leader, especially in times of crises like we have now. Is it an accident of chance that we have a pandemic (world-wide disease) spreading and causing a world-wide financial panic and we have a ‘Donald J. Trump’ as our President? Or, is the ‘god of politics’ just laughing at an electorate that was foolish enough to pick a liar and a thief as Presidential candidates in our last election? I believe it is fair to write that Donald J. Trump doesn’t have the brains or ability to have caused either of those events but it is totally obvious to write that he has proven to the world, and the majority of the U.S electorate, that he doesn’t have the brains, or the courage, to lead us through these terrible times or anywhere but in the wrong direction. One slight glimmer of hope is the fact that some of the key Republican ‘Trump-enablers’ are beginning to look in their rear-view mirrors. Do they want to go down with the political train-wreck just ahead? Let’s watch and see.
With that last thought in mind, I’m going to hit the send button on my computer and get this blog on the way. Then, I’m going to saddle-up Hubris and it’s going to be Hi Ho Hubris, Aawaay!
Copyright, April 10, 2020, Louis J. Christen