272 – Leading as Enforcers

If we don’t lay down the law and regulate—to paint the lines in the right places and make sure that everyone stays inside those lines—to enforce the good rules that keep everyone safe, whether big or small, young or old—if we let lawlessness have the run of the mill—we do incredible damage.

It’s an old con artist tactic to sit piously, nod with understanding while others talk, show that “sad, sympathetic” face, keep calm and regal, and talk with the ideal, soothing tone that offends no one, all while the foundations crumble and thieves roam unchecked. The incompetent leader uses this tactic, allowing problems to grow while maintaining a vernier of a “pastoral” or “ministerial” or “presidential” or “kingly” manners, and those same problems actually make the people flock to their fraudulent leader who refuses to take action to stop those problems.

True, valuable, competent, worthy leadership will shake the building in order to restore the foundations to the healthy state they began with. Re-roofing, tearing-up carpet, knocking-out and putting-up partitions, digging basements, pouring concrete—construction and maintenance are dusty, dirty, disruptive work.

Of course, the phony, pseudo-pious leader will put out the prophet, slay the truth-teller, and accuse internal compliance inspectors of complaining—all the while mislabeling those activities as “necessary disruptions” when they are anything but.

If you want your life and your work to not become a train wreck, you must know the difference between foundational and theatrical leadership. The foundational leader knows a healthy foundation and enforces rules in order to keep the house in good repair. The theatrical leader does his work in rhetoric and style, politely perched atop a decaying social structure some else created. The mark of a foundational leader is proper enforcement of necessary rules.

When the good leader enforces necessary rules, many people object. Few understand foundation science and no one wants the floor to tremble. But, the very leader deemed the “trouble maker” could be the only person in the house with the competence and courage to save the house. Rules protect the innocent and keep everyone safe under the roof. Question leaders, but don’t complain about thriving steps causing tremors.