A Leader in Name Only

By | April 11, 2018

[April 11, 2018]  You and I have probably had a similar experience with a boss that made us madder-n-hell.  Like so many folks, I had a boss that had few leadership skills yet held the title of “Commander.”  To those who worked for him, he was a leader in name only.

I personally don’t hold the expectation that everyone must be a leader.  I don’t expect it even in the military; although many military leaders do.  What I do hope to see are people in positions of formal authority actively exercising their leadership skills.

“For I shall show that it isn’t positions which lend men distinction, but men who enhance positions.” – Agiad King Leonidas

There is nothing more dangerous than a military leader who is a leader in name only.  Leadership is not about a position title or designation.  It’s about inspiring others, having influence, and showing passion for your profession.  And it matters not what profession or job or position we may have, leadership is not about the title we hold.

In America, we are told there is a shortage of good leaders.  The decline of leadership is often discussed in the quantitative form; declining numbers of real leaders.  At issue however is not the numbers of leaders but the quality of leaders we do have.

The U.S. military, like so many other professions, continues to struggle with the development and retention of good leaders.  Because the need in the private sector is so great for those who can exercise leadership skills, military leaders are pulled away to ply their trade with private companies that need them.

U.S. President Harry S Truman once said that “where there is no leadership, society stands still.”  Progress occurs only when skilled leaders take all prospects to transform things for the better.

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

20 thoughts on “A Leader in Name Only

  1. Billy Kenningston

    Either we learn from history or we will repeat the mistakes of others. Ignorance is rampant in our society, so why not step out and learn something about leadership and the history that helps great leaders.

    1. Drew Dill

      When I was in school, history was BORING. But now after I’ve been out for a few decades and I get to pick what I learn about, I find it fascinating.

  2. Yusaf from Texas

    It would take me all day to list the bad bosses in my lifetime. Many lacked even the most basic leader skills. How they got to that point is beyond my imagination. It seems like they had their position go to their head or something. Ego? Perhaps. Stupidity? Perhaps.

  3. José Luis Rodriguez

    So true. Too many “leaders” are not leaders at all but individuals holding positions.

  4. Greg Heyman

    Good article today General Satterfield and thanks too for the quote from King Leonidas who was certainly a great warrior.

    1. Anita

      Yes, thanks for good article. Much appreciated.

  5. Shawn C Stolarz

    I had a lifetime of leaders in name only. In fact, so many were so bad that it provided me with the motivation to learn how to be a better boss. I was successful later in life just for that reason.

  6. Martin Shiell

    The idea that a person’s position makes them a leader has been recognized since at least the beginning of recorded human history. We can see this in the quote by King Leonidas. Any time we see parallels between ancient times and today, it certainly means something big. Thanks for emphasizing it for us.

    1. Mark Evans

      That movie was pretty bad but the idea is a good one.

  7. Bill Sanders, Jr.

    One point I agree with most emphatically and that is the most dangerous leader is one who thinks he is a leader. You need to put this in bold.

  8. Tomas C. Looney

    I never heard it called leader “in name only” but that makes perfect sense to me. Kind of like Republicans in Name Only (RINOs).

  9. Janna Faulkner

    Yes, the military does want all their troops to be leaders once they have a little time in the service. This is a good thing and that expectation is valuable throughout their lifetime. This is why military service has such value beyond its immediate utility.

    1. Joey Holmes

      This is what my dad keeps telling me. Cheers!

  10. Max Foster

    I got a good chuckle out of your leadership post this morning. Thinking back to my old army days, I could also reflect upon those officers and sergeants who were terrible leaders. Most of them, however, were fairly junior in the rank structure but I didn’t know that at the time.

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