Foolish leadership

CarolinaFireJournal - Wayne Bailey
Wayne Bailey
07/15/2014 -

Have you ever noticed or witnessed a foolish leader? As some of my associates say, “You just can’t fix stupid.” Have you observed how those in his or her circle of friends can lead a leader down the wrong path? You’ve noticed a leader that hangs around individuals that you wouldn’t trust them dating their child or giving advice to them? 


Your leader listens to the wrong people? They hang out with others that are not edifying them, but pull them down in social graces? When things go wrong in a foolish leader’s life, they have a need to place the blame. If you continue to blame others for not succeeding, they will never succeed themselves.

A foolish leader is only interested in pay, perks, power and prestige. One of my favorite quotes is, “If a fool and his money are soon parted, why are there so many rich fools?” Aristotle said it this way, “There is a foolish corner in the brain of the wisest man.” Brit Simmons said, “Fools are reactive listeners. They have ‘open door’ policies and claim to be ever available to answer our questions and concerns. Their feel-good approach to listening rarely leads to substantive learning. We learn very quickly that the orifice of the oracle leader is actually a black hole instead of a source of light.”

What traits do you see in a leader that is hanging out with the right people? You see fruit in this person’s life. This could be a healthy marriage; great relationship with their kids, good job and some people would say a pillar of the community. When you meet this person, they are refreshing, full of life and have a contagious laugh. They get things done, weather the hard and rough times, always looking forward and have success in their life.

All my life I’ve heard the definition of success. Just recently I read; “Success is measured on how high you bounce when you hit bottom.” People that take the blame and don’t blame others are taking responsibility of their life. When you know you did something wrong, learn from it. Leaders that do this are constantly learning from their mistakes and don’t mind making decisions. Will they always be right? No. One thing for sure, a ship is always safe in a harbor, but that’s not why it was designed. We’re the same way. We were designed to live life, make decisions based on the data we have and not stay at home afraid an asteroid may fall on us.

A wise leader always has their employees back and does what’s best for them. They usually attract or draw like employees. If you have a foolish work ethic, that’s who you will attract. If you have a strong work ethic, guess what, you will attract those to your team.

What draws people to a leader? Some say it’s their magnetism. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary says magnetism is a “Quality that makes someone able to attract and hold the interest of other people.”

I think every leader has a degree of magnetism. This trait doesn’t have good or bad elements, but is dependent on what the leader does with it. It never remains the same. The Law of Magnetism states that you will attract those who are most like yourself.

Someone that I admire is a guy name T. Boone Pickens. He has magnetism that attracts other. His wisdom and attraction from others comes in the forms of “Booneisms,” Here are some of his food for thought ideas on business;

  • “A plan without action is not a plan. It’s a speech.”
  • “In a deal between friends, there’s no place for a wolverine.”
  • “I once told a friend, ‘This is the kind of market that builds character.’ He looked at me and said, ‘If it gets any worse, you’ll have more character than Abe Lincoln.’”
  • “When you blow away the foam, you get down to the real stuff.”
  • “When you are young, fitness is a sport. As you grow older, it’s a necessity.”
  • “If you are going to run with the big dogs, you have to get out from under the porch.”

Mr. Pickens views on people:

  • “Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser.”
  • “He throws his money around like 200-pound blocks of cement.”
  • “He gets a bang for his buck.”
  • “He’s as smooth as a stucco bathtub.”
  • My favorite. “He could screw up a one-car funeral.”
  • “He couldn’t find oil if he was standing ankle deep in it.”
  • “He couldn’t hit the ground with his hat.”
  • “He rode up in front of the grandstand and fell off his horse.”
  • “He’s an 18 karat sap” or someone we won’t be doing deals with.
  • “He’s gone to the tall grass” meaning he’s gone into hiding.

It’s difficult to not be drawn to the personality of Boone Pickens. His magnetism has made him millions, if not billions of dollars.

Humble Leadership
One of America’s greatest college basketball coaches, John Wooden, said to his players, “Talent is God-given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be thankful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.” Humility helps keeps pride from sneaking into your life and making you something you’re not. Give credit to others for our successes, remain open to growth as leaders, and honor team members when they excel. Tobias Fredberg said, “However tempting it may be to assign cultural stereotypes, the truth, at least for the 36 companies we studied, seems to be that higher-ambition CEOs assume personal responsibility when things are bad and they give collective credit when things are good. These companies exemplify elements of both strong collective and individual leadership. Both — when used in the right situations — are essential for creating economic as well as social value.”

Eagles verses Turkeys
If you surround yourself with turkeys, you may never get off the ground. Surround your self with Eagles if you want to own the sky. If you’ve ever studied the eagle, it’s a magnificent bird of prey. When the mother eagle lays her eggs, she watches over them carefully, like a good mother would do. When they hatch into eaglets, they are taken care of, fed, groomed until they become of the age to fly from the nest. We all know people that are still sitting in the nest waiting on mom and dad to take care of them. In the case of the eagle, they make the nest very uncomfortable. They place twigs, thorns and branches in the nest to help assist the eaglet to move over to one side of the nest. In our everyday lives, this could be like your parents charging you rent to live at home, but giving you a curfew to be in by 11:00 p.m. and you are 24 years old. Yikes!

The eagle knows when it’s time to push the eaglets out of the nest. Do you think there is some anxiety on her behalf to push her young out of a nest from a nest 200 feet above the ground? I’m sure. Once the eaglets have made it out of the nest, a natural phenomenon happens; the eaglets stretch out their wings and begin to soar. When they really don’t have the hang of flying just yet, mom is close by to sweep under them and bring them back to the nest. You see, trying something and not hitting your goal is not a failure if you get up, dust yourself off and try again.

Someone once said, “There’s people who will knock you down and will try to intimidate you but if you stand back up and dust yourself off they will be the one’s being intimidated.” The mother eagle works and works until one day, the eaglet soars like their siblings and parents. What the eaglet finds out is the power in its wings. Without taking a huge risk in leaping out of a comfort zone of the nest, they wouldn’t know what it would be like to have wings and be an eagle.

The question is “what will you do next in your career or life that would make you open your wings and soar like an eagle?” Take a chance. You never know. Don’t be foolish with your talents as a leader and settle walking around with the yard birds. Get started today using your skills. Mark Twain said, “I knew a man who grabbed a cat by the tail and learned 40 percent more about cats than the man who didn’t.”

Experience is an awesome thing.

Wayne Bailey is Deputy Director North Carolina Department of Insurance, Office State Fire Marshal where he manages the Fire and Rescue Commission Staff. He serves on IFSAC’s Certificate Assembly Board of Governor and is a member of the NFPA 1006 Technical Rescue Committee.
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