I’ve been reading the Art of Manliness for some time and occasionally they publish stuff form old army field manuals. The thing that really gets to me when reading them is just how real they are. You can tell that whoever wrote em really put thought and heart into the work, and they didn’t do it to just sound smart or to please people.
I didn’t see any citations or scientific studies (maybe there are, i’m not sure to be honest) but MAN they were a good read. I’ve heard a few of my teachers say this, and it’s that when someone writes from the heart, it goes straight to yours when you read it.
The army field manuals are just one example and i chose that because it’s the most secular example i can think of and it had very serious real-world applications. Just think how many lives could have been lost if those manuals were written poorly.
Which brings me to my next point: i really get the value and purpose of conducting scientific studies and such, but i think some parts of society are overly focused on them. Studies can take a long time, lots of resources and might require conditions very hard to fulfil, and even then we might not be able to draw strong conclusions later. Therefore why not we balance our need for studies with a truckload of common sense and actual thinking.
It frustrates me to hear people in authority talk from their throats and not heads + hearts. Even more infuriating is how they got there in the first place and the fact that they now influence a lot of lives.
Leaders, please, have your head in the stars as you gaze to the future but please keep your feet rooted to the earth. Go out and do things, seek the opinions of those on the ground and actively listen to them, and then please make decisions that are SOUND and GOOD, not those that SOUND GOOD.
Enough of doing things to appear politically correct. That farce gets us nowhere and we end up in a cycle of firefighting problems that arise from our ‘solutions’ to yesterday’s problems.
A leader is someone who can speak the truth without fear, who can admit his mistakes without shame, and who makes decisions for everyone’s good, and not just for measurable metrics like money and whatever else adults seem to focus on.
If the trains break down because of a combination of unexpectedly harsh weather and poor workmanship, then say it and apologize, then get to work fixing it. If you never taught in a classroom of 40 students before then don’t say hurtful things off the top of your head, and instead accept that you are leading in a field which you have zero experience in, then go and do some heavy legwork to truly understand what the people you are leading face on a daily basis. In fact, leaders should not be put in charge of something they have no experience in, because ‘leadership’ isn’t just about knowing how to tell people what to do and managing resources. It takes a deep appreciation of the workings of the little mechanisms that you might not notice on the grand scheme of things. It takes hard work and putting aside one’s ego and making decisions so that everyone benefits out of it, and not just your portfolio.
A good leader makes himself look good but a great leader makes everyone around him look good. Take a peek through history and you’ll see that the best leaders in our past made everyone feel empowered, confident in their shared vision, and inspired to put in the hard work. Their fame and recognition came as a product of that, not the goal of their actions.
Just the other week my friend reminded us of one of the warnings of the Prophet (peace be upon him), which is that in the end times we will face the trial of leadership. I don’t know the exact elaborations of that but i understand some part of it, which is that we will have people who shouldn’t lead, leading. And we will have leaders tempted to do all sorts of strange things for their own gain or other agendas, and not for the fulfilment of their duty to those whom they should be serving (not just reporting to).
May we be protected from that and may God bless our leaders with pure hearts, firm resolve, and the guidance to do their jobs well. And may He also bless us all, the people, with patience, good conduct, a cooperative and supportive mindset, as well as the strength and ability to be good citizens, followers, and human beings.