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Good leaders with sound ideas and well developed plans will welcome hard questions and informed challenges.
Bad leaders with weak ideas and compromised plans will be defensive, flinty, and more often than not will resort to appeals to authority or credentialism. Those are your warning signs. – Cdr Salamander
Cdr Salamander is the pseudonymous author of the Cdr Salamander substack. He is a retired naval officer who writes about naval issues. He wrote the above in a recent piece about military leadership. Yet its applicability goes far beyond the military. It applies to virtually every area of human endeavor. I have seen illustrations of it throughout my career as an engineer, author, and technical writer.
Every truly successful effort I have been involved with had been led by leaders who welcomed hard questions and informed challenges. Even when they had a good plan and were crystal-clear on the concept, they wanted critical inputs to ensure they had not overlooked anything. They also enthusiastically accepted inputs that added value to their original ideas. (The truly great ones generously shared credit with originators.)
Every epic foul-up I have encountered (including several I was enmeshed in) we headed (I cannot say led) by vacillating or foolish managers who concealed their weaknesses through a façade of condescension and arrogance. They refused to hear inputs from others. Their first resort was an appeal to authority or a display of credentials.
If you find yourself in company with good leaders, pitch in and enjoy the ride. Stick with them if that is possible, and keep in touch once you have parted ways. If you find yourself led by a servant when he reigneth, find a way out of that situation as quickly as possible. Because their efforts will eventually implode. If you are at hand when they do, that person will behave like a drowning man. They will pull you under in an effort to keep themselves afloat.Published in