I’ve been thinking a lot about bad bosses lately. For the record, none of my bosses are bad–I have one “head honcho”; one “assistant head honcho”, and two supervisors who are all nice people, but the topic of good leadership is something that is always on my mind for some reason.
I have always been raised to lead by example.
If I am not willing to do the hard work, I can’t expect to inspire that type of work ethic in others.
One thing that my mother told me growing up was, “If you’re not a good servant, you won’t be a good leader”.
Great leaders are great because they empower others to change their lives for the better. They recognize that, in order for the team/family/organization to succeed, everyone must reach their full potential.
On the flip side, insecure leaders are threatened by the success of their subordinates. Because they are not confident in their ability to lead, they believe that anyone who works at a high standard–for the sake of the team–is trying to take their position. Some leaders will even work to hinder the people they’re supposed to be mentoring because they don’t want to be upstaged. The best example of a “bad boss” I can think of is King Saul (of the Bible).
King Saul started out as a labourer and ended up being chosen as king of Israel, by God. However, from the very beginning, Saul doubted his ability to lead.
The prophet Samuel approached Saul when he was just a young man, tending to his father’s animals. When Samuel told Saul that he was chosen to be a great leader, Saul responded as any insecure teenager would have,”I’m from a lesser tribe, and of that tribe, my family is the lowest of the low. Why are you saying these things to me?” Instead of accepting his new role, Saul reminded Samuel of his old one. That set the tone for everything that happened from that point on.
As King, Saul repeatedly disobeyed the instructions that God gave him through Samuel, which led to God finally saying, “You’re on your own, man. I’m going to find a king who actually follows instructions!”
(This isn’t verbatim mind you, but you get the idea)
This chain of events meant that David, a shepherd, musician, and all-around nice guy, was anointed as the new king. Saul didn’t know this at the time and took David under his wing. David played the harp for him, was an armor-bearer, killed a Philistine giant named Goliath, and married Saul’s daughter, Michal. Everything was going just fine until the two men went out to battle their enemies. They were victorious of course, but the real issue was caused by the victory celebration.
As the men rode into town, they were greeted by a group of women, who sang and danced praises to the king and the commander of the king’s army.
‘”King Saul has killed his thousands!” they sang, “And David, his TEN thousands!”
Saul began to see David, his beloved friend, musician, and future son-in-law, as a threat to his throne. He began to plot against David, and after trying to kill David with a spear, not once, but twice, Saul removed him from his court. Long story short, Saul tried to kill David several more times.
Every attempt that Saul made to sabotage David ended up helping him.
David had a chance to kill Saul and solve his problems, but chooses to cut a piece of Saul’s robe to show him that, while he had an excellent opportunity to end his tormentor’s life, he didn’t take it out of loyalty. They reached a tenuous truce that David didn’t quite believe, and Saul ended up committing suicide after being defeated in battle.
David was declared king.
The moral of the story?
When you are a leader, the success of the people you train brings credit and honour to your leadership. Insecurity causes leaders to wound the very people they are called to help.
“You can’t hold a man down without staying down with him.”