Thursday, December 01, 2011

Another little thought on leadership...

A long time back, I wrote about strong leaders (willing to stand behind decisions but also willing to admit when they were wrong) and weak leaders (want to push the blame onto others). I also think there are the "promotion" type of leaders and the "director" type of leaders. (This is based on something I heard being discussed on the radio early this morning.)

Some political leaders (sadly, increasingly few in our country, it seems) want to promote what is good for the country and the people - but then step back and let the people do their thing. There are laws, of course, but there aren't BAZILLIONS of laws designed to micro-manage everything. Natural consequences, in some cases, are allowed to happen: rather than being forbidden from doing something that might not be good for them, people simply have to decide whether they accept whatever the consequences may be. (For example: drinking lots of sugary soda is not good for you. However, rather than rationing how much sugary soda an individual could by, a promotion-type leader would allow the publication of research showing that lots of sugary soda isn't that good for you, and assume the people are smart enough to decide if they want to drink it or not, and how much).

Other leaders are the directorial type of leader, who want to tell people what to do, in detail. These are the micromanagey types. The ones who don't want anyone to be hurt or offended or feel like stuff is "unfair." So they straitjacket everyone with regulations so that people will be "safe."

You can probably guess what type of leader I prefer, and what type annoys me.

But it occurs to me - this is what the radio commentator was talking about - there are a lot of people who WANT a director-type leader. They WANT to be told what to do. They want the responsibility for their choices to be taken out of their hands.

And you know, I see that among a lot of the young people I teach. Rather than thinking for themselves, they want me to plan a project for them - or tell them the next step to do in lab - or warn them of every damn thing that could go wrong. (I shouldn't really have to tell someone, should I, that a lab hotplate gets hot when it's turned on?) And I wonder if there are just enough people who want to sink down and be mommied or daddied and be told what to do, that we wind up getting leaders who think it's a dandy idea to set draconian limits on the salt that can be in restaurant food, or tell us what kind of light bulbs we can buy, or, perhaps, in the future, tell us how much electricity we may use.

I dunno. I guess if a critical mass of people want that, fine. Become like the people in Wall-E who are coddled and cared for. I'll take early retirement from my job as soon as I can, go build a cabin somewhere in the mountains, live off the grid as much as possible, and do my best to ignore the dictates of people who think they have more horse sense than I do.

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