[May 24, 2018] If you are reading this article, then odds are you’re a leader in some capacity and are interested in learning how to improve your skills. You’ve also heard that there is no such thing as a free lunch and while that applies to everyone, it especially applies to leaders.
If you expect a free lunch as a leader, then you are not a good leader; neither efficient and effective at what you do and probably unethical too. “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” My old Platoon Sergeant used to say this to me and that if I was looking for something for free, it was not worth it and would probably get me into trouble.
He was right. The best things in life are not free. The greater the challenge, the higher the chances of failure, the more difficult something is to obtain, the greater we place value where it should be. One of the most desired possession a person can have is their freedom and people are willing to do anything to obtain it. There’s an old saying that, “Freedom is not free.”
Economist Milton Friedman does a good job of explaining the free lunch myth; that somehow or another that government can spend money at the expense of no one. Review a video on a speech he gave on this myth (see YouTube video, 7:07 minutes, link here). As he says humorously, there is no Santa Claus.
People who expect handouts are not respected and while that is unfortunate but it is also true. If you do expect to get something for nothing as a leader, then folks will pick up on your intentions. You will lose their respect because it becomes clear that you want special treatment just because you are a leader.
Many senior leaders make it a personal policy of theirs to never accept, for free, any good or service from anyone. Those leaders pay for what they receive and pay for it at its fair market value. This keeps their career intact and there is never any accusation of graft or corruption.
Anything short of this shows a deep character flaw.