Freedom and Force: The Leadership Challenge
Posted by Orrin Woodward on May 8, 2016
If we look beneath the surface of leadership, we can discern one fundamental fact of influence, namely: to whom much is given, much is required. This is a fact that should interest all true students of leadership. He has only a secondary or derived interest in matters like character, relationship, honor, loyalty, vision and similar items of influence that fill the pages of books, magazines, and speeches of leadership gurus. All of these can be run up under one head. They have an immediate and temporary importance, and for this reason they monopolize attention, but they all come to the same thing; which is, an increase in responsibilities the higher one climbs in leadership.
It is unfortunately none too well understood that in a free society leadership is freely given by followers, not physically coerced by the leader. All the alleged power of the leader, is in fact merely the display of confidence the community has in his ability to take them where they want to go. Therefore, any attempt to physically control the community, whatever else it may be called, should certainly not be labeled leadership. In effect, influence is something a leader earns through his character and competence whereas coercion is the non-leader’s substitute for the lack of the aforementioned qualities.
Moreover, it follows that as coercion increases, true leadership decreases. After all, if the alleged leader actually had the community’s buy-in, then why would force need to be applied at all? Unfortunately, communities across the globe have become so inured to the use of force by positional leadership that the difference between influence and intimidation has been blurred beyond recognition. Bureaucratic exercise of force has been applied so steadily, that most people are unaware of any other approach to achieving the communities goals.
Nonetheless, there is a better way. In fact, it’s the only way that deserves the noble title of leadership. While neglected and abused by its ersatz replacements, true leadership is the art and science of influence without coercion. In a word, servant leadership. Under the auspices of the industrial revolution, however, servant leadership was replaced with the command and control structures modeled upon national militaries. Indeed, Big Government, Big Banks, and Big Corporations (aka: Big Bureaucracies) have all defaulted to coercion, rather than service, as the ruling modus operandi. Students of politics, naturally, recognize this trend for what it is, namely a continuation of what James Madison called “the old trick of turning every contingency into a resource for accumulating force in the government”. Needless to say, the effect all of this has upon the balance between force (coercion) and freedom (service) upon leadership cannot be overstated.
For these reasons, among many others, Chris Brady and I wrote Launching a Leadership Revolution. The force tide must be checked before the freedom tide will return. This, however, will not occur until people free themselves from the addiction to debt, for debt is cancerous to freedom. Imagine how many people would happily exit Big Bureaucracies command and control structures were they financial capable of doing so to pursue their purpose rather than a paycheck. Not surprisingly, the longer a person is addicted to pleasure and debt, the more difficult it is to break the paycheck dependency. In other words, debt addiction not only leads to craven obedience to commands, but also atrophies the ability to think and act independently.
Accordingly, the Financial Fitness Program is an essential first step in returning to freedom and servant-based leadership. After all, only when a person is financially independent can he afford to act upon his own opinions rather than simply obeying his superiors mandates. The question boils down to how important is freedom to the reader? Strangely, some of the most vociferous supporters of societal freedom do not seem to recognize the cognitive dissonance inherent in selling themselves into debt slavery.
Thankfully, the LIFE Leadership community has identified debt as the biggest roadblock to freedom in the developed world. To put it bluntly, I simply do not believe our forefathers intended to sacrifice so much for freedom so we could be debt-slaves. The thought is ludicrous! Unlike most of the talking pundits, however, we are not just going to bewail our current situation. Instead, we are going to do something about it, namely, declare our debt independence and write our personal Emancipation Proclamation. Then, and only then, will true leadership rise again as free people make free choices to follow servant-based leaders.
And this has brought us back to where we began. We must maintain the torch of liberty handed to us by the sacrifice of our ancestors, for to whom much is given, much is required.