[March 20, 2021] There is an old saying by John D. Rockefeller that good leadership shows average people how to do the work of superior people. He was right. Conversely, weak leaders are those that cannot get their mission accomplished. The result is hard times.
We’ve all witnessed this problem of weak leadership.
My first assignment as a new Army Second Lieutenant was in an Infantry Company that was the poorest performer of 23 companies in our Brigade. I was embarrassed and discouraged. My peers would chuckle when I came into the room and openly mock our company with senior officers present.
The company commander was a weak leader. He did not understand the basic principles of leadership, which he thought meant just giving orders. His method of ordering us to “get it done, now” was a problem I tried to help correct. My commander would hear nothing of it and admonished me for trying. Hard times!
Fortunately, our unit never made it into combat. If we had, I feared terrible results. Two years later, I was honored to have an exceptional company commander who put things right. We were never again the dog of the Brigade
“Hard times create strong men, strong men create good times, good times create weak men, and weak men create hard times.” – G. Michael Hopf1
This is a common myth motif. The hero is at first weak and underdeveloped. Through a series of difficult adversaries, he develops strength and skill to bring good times to his community. The price for weakness will always be high.
Michael Hopf’s quote implies a good-bad-good cycle of humanity. I’m not sure this is true, but I know that poor leadership makes us pay. For example, a country with an authoritarian, brutal leader will lead his people to ruin. Human history is littered with examples from the 20th Century; Hitler’s Germany, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, and Idi Amin’s Uganda.
Weak leaders do, indeed, create hard times.
- The quote is from a post-apocalyptic novel called “Those Who Remain” by the author G. Michael Hopf.