Originally published June 25, 2012, updated January 18, 2016
This morning I watched the news on NBC (my wife likes them) reporting on the trial of Jerry Sandusky and his attorney's claim that they are going to appeal. Then the report made it known the authorities weren’t done with this mess, and others may be charged as more evidence of what occurred comes out. There is the head of the athletic department and a vice president at the university that have been charged - or may be charged - with lying under oath or covering up the child abuse perpetrated by Sandusky.
I know this may seem like a strange question, but does anyone see a glimmer of enlightenment over all of this?
The glimmer of enlightenment is this: There's a difference between managers and leaders. A good leader can hire a good manager, but a good manager can't hire a good leader.
Through the course of my life I discovered that being a good leader means standing up and saying: ‘Hold it! This is all wrong and we’re going to change!’ Whether it is in government or in business that means having the willingness to be the rock in the current, often a life long quality. But let’s face it - heterodoxy isn’t for the faint of heart. Who wants to be disliked, ridiculed and rejected?
As for the go along to get along guys who are perceived as 'good leaders': Are they in reality only ‘good managers’ who were chosen to organize the direction everyone has already decided to go? They’re easy to deal with, they're easy to get along with, they're well liked, and they would never in a million years stir up the manure.
Take for example two arenas where this is so obvious I shouldn’t have to explain it, but most don’t get it because people believe they represent the highest standards for leadership. Military career officers and PhD’s! Let me tell you about Col. John Boyd. (What appears below is from a site that no longer exists, but this link is just as good...maybe better.)
"Forty-Second" Boyd, the man remembered for defeating every opponent in aerial combat at the Air Force's premier dog-fighting academy in two-thirds of a minute, helped found the Fort Myer get-togethers at the end of his Air Force career”…..however this doesn’t demonstrate the “long and often painful saga of a man who, as a full colonel, went toe to toe, time after time, with a phalanx of two-and three-star generals for the good of the country, winning most of his battles and surviving long enough to help provide secretary of defense Richard Cheney the ideas needed for swift and decisive victory in the Persian Gulf War. ("Keep it simple — so that the generals will understand it," Boyd frequently told his small band of fellow guerrillas, known collectively as "The Acolytes." Boyd was…..a Pentagon "Whiz Kid"— one of the rare few who were "defined by the courts-martial and investigations they faced." He was also "the most important unknown man of his time and the most remarkable unsung hero in American military history."….. Loud and profane, Boyd's intellectual achievements were matched by his relentless guerrilla warfare against hidebound "careerists" then running the Air Force…… The tenets of this speech reflected both his spirit and values:
"One day you will come to a fork in the road. And you're going to have to make a decision about what direction you want to go." [Boyd] raised his hand and pointed. "If you go that way you can be somebody. You will have to make compromises and you will have to turn your back on your friends. But you will be a member of the club and you will get promoted and you will get good assignments." Then Boyd raised the other hand and pointed another direction. "Or you can go that way and you can do something — something for your country and for your Air Force and for yourself. If you decide to do something, you may not get promoted and you may not get the good assignments and you certainly will not be a favorite of your superiors. But you won't have to compromise yourself. You will be true to your friends and to yourself. And your work might make a difference."
He paused and stared. "To be somebody or to do something. In life there is often a roll call. That's when you will have to make a decision. To be or to do? Which way will you go?"You show me a lower ranking officer in the military who tells his superiors they're all wrong and proves it - and I will show you an officer who have better find another career. Boyd "is credited for largely developing the strategy for the invasion of Iraq in the Gulf War of 1991." "In a letter to the editor of Inside the Pentagon, former Commandant of the Marine Corps General Charles C. Krulak is quoted as saying "The Iraqi army collapsed morally and intellectually under the onslaught of American and Coalition forces. John Boyd was an architect of that victory as surely as if he'd commanded a fighter wing or a maneuver division in the desert."
The only reason Boyd ever was promoted to Colonel was because Reagan became president, but he would never be allowed to wear stars.
This pattern plays out in the universities also. Show me a graduate student who, while attempting to get his PhD. told the PhD.s evaluating him their ideas were all wet…. and worse yet …..proved it - and I will show you someone who is stuck with a Masters degree.
They both learn early on that to get along you must go along. When that happens it becomes a way of life and as they rise in the ranks they will only tolerate those just like themselves. To do otherwise would be a personal admission of failure. Eventually the ranks of “leadership” are filled with those who don’t have the courage to stand up against all odds for what is right.
Within the scientific community it has been made abundantly clear the holy grail of science isn’t ‘truth’ - its government grant money. The fraud perpetrated on the world by ‘scientists’ regarding Anthropogenic Global Warming has been exposed and now the world is aware that this has been going on for decades. The world is now aware that what appears as leadership within the scientific community is no real leadership at all - only hucksters, con artists and cowards. The only courageous leadership in science is from those that are attacked and smeared as ‘skeptics’, even to the point of being called ‘Flat Earthers’ and compared to those who perpetrated the holocaust during WWII. Those who are real leaders - those who have the courage to stand against the tide - those who are prepared to lose everything for that which is right are always called….. unreasonable.
My answer to that? I would like for someone to show me any insurmountable obstacle that was ever overcome by being reasonable! Being unreasonable in pursuit of a noble goal takes clarity. But the problem must be properly defined - that's what leads to clarity, which leads to understanding. From that a vision is developed. But a vision is valueless without courage, fortitude, and the ability to stand outside the comfort and support of the group.
That's a view many will ridicule and being unreasonable or irrational, but I would be willing to bet the children Sandusky abused would have loved to have seen someone come forward who was courageous enough to be "unreasonable" within the universities ranks of ‘leadership’! Unfortunately there was no one - including a much beloved football coach whose legacy and reputation is now irreparably destroyed. A coach who should have been in the forefront defending these kids. I wonder how many of that cast of characters now regret their cowardice?
Whether it's in government, military, academia or industry, this is something we need to learn, repeat, retain and practice: "To be somebody or to do something. In life there is often a roll call. That's when you will have to make a decision. To be or to do? Which way will you go?"