So you want to be a leader? Be an evangelist/enthusiast!


Develop the habit of being all about what you stand for, what others can believe in. The bad habit is to be the critic who has become cynical – and can only be evaluated by all the things you are against, dislike or believe worthless.

I would need a sociologist or behavioural physiologist to fully explain the phenomena – but closely related to “Bad News Sells” is the fact that crowds, groups, choose to pay attention to the cynic, the knocker over the evangelist, enthusiast. However, don’t be fooled by that attention – who and what they follow is rich, wholesome and creative when it is the evangelist, enthusiast.

We only need tune into twitter or the TV to find a deluge of folks purporting to lead but with nothing other than bile and negative intent for us to consume because it can be

  • entertaining in small doses,
  • readily available,
  • no doubt cheap
  • a quick road to ‘fame’ if you are shallow enough to buy it.

However, we also find hidden gems, little nuggets of the human spirit making a different choice, to stand up and be counted as being for something we can build or create together – how refreshing and energising is that?!

I talk of this in terms of habits and it is important to think of it thematically that way, since it’s easy to fall into this bad habit everyday, in every meeting or communication. There are tips and tricks, and I’m as sceptical as anyone when they stray toward the politically correct, such as ‘find and replace’ problem with opportunity for example – but that is not what I am talking about here. What I am talking about is an authentic belief in something or someplace that you describe again and again and again.

Good would be things you are going to create, transform, build or become. Bad would be things you would beat, destroy, marginalise.

bottom line – The cynic drags crowds to the bottom – The leader draws followers to the top

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Osama, Obama, The USA and a parable of leadership


THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.

Everything I’ve written here on this blog is encapsulated in the news we heard over this past weekend – and the intent of this post is to draw on the parallels, the parables of what we as leaders can learn from this historic moment.

First – I want to set the context as the key imperatives of Leadership from a followership perspective – a leader MUST establish:

  1. Who is in charge
  2. What are the rules
  3. The rules will be applied fairly and consistently

1) The US, and latterly President Obama took the moral high ground for themselves in declaring a philosophical constant that they were taking a stand against terrorism and the killing of innocents

We quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda — an organization headed by Osama bin Laden, which had openly declared war on the United States and was committed to killing innocents in our country and around the globe. And so we went to war against al Qaeda to protect our citizens, our friends, and our allies

2) The rules were pretty clear – if you declare war on the US and the philosophy and moral position of the US you become the target. al Qaeda and it’s leadership wherever in the World they may be became the target and the defeat of al Qaeda is the declared aim and no expense will be spared to achieve it. That’s a huge and serious commitment, as the President acknowledges

After nearly 10 years of service, struggle, and sacrifice, we know well the costs of war. These efforts weigh on me every time I, as Commander-in-Chief, have to sign a letter to a family that has lost a loved one, or look into the eyes of a service member who’s been gravely wounded.

3) The rules can be observed to be consistently and fairly applied – Manuel Noriega, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, are all removed from action based on their breaking the rules of being committed to the demise of the USA and it’s philosophy. Note that ‘fairly applied’ is relative to the application and contributes to the consistency and is not necessarily and observation of the fairness per se of the rule! Action along this lines against Muammar Gaddafi is fair and consistent against the rules – there is correspondingly less consistent attention being paid to other despots and war mongers which detracts from the overall execution against principal 3) – but this makes my case.

The greatest risks of leadership are also present and demonstrated

  1. no matter, your message will be misunderstood and misrepresented by cynics to manipulate the majority of the “uncommitted”
  2. what you want, always costs more than you are prepared to pay
  3. You can’t ask for patience and someone’s vote

1) no matter what you do, your message will be misunderstood and misrepresented by cynics to manipulate the majority of the “uncommitted”. The War on Terror is pervasively represented as a war on Islam – no matter the lengths that are gone to to counter this – it is still the common perception. Note the hostility and genuine anger to a Mosque at ground zero as evidence that it is close to impossible for many good people to tease apart the two.

2) What you want always costs more than you are prepared to pay – evidenced in the loss of life to date of course, but striking to me is the executive decision to kill bin Laden rather than take him alive. Many would argue that the better Public Relations course of action would be to have taken him alive – but a decision was taken that will sit on that leaders conscience to take a choice of action. You may not see it coming, but I can assure you a relatively tough choice will face you as you execute your vision.

3) It took 10 years, and two US Presidents to see this through – the eventual defeat of al Qaeda may take a generation yet and the overall struggle could be seen in biblical timescales. Doing what is right won’t win as many votes as doing what is right now – never mind.

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