Trust: Leadership's Solid Cornerstone

One of my favorite church hymns has a line which has helped to guide my life for many years now. The line goes like this: "Trust and obey, for there is no other way." A simple thought indeed, but it can serve as the basis for great faith if followed...


One of my favorite church hymns has a line which has helped to guide my life for many years now. The line goes like this: "Trust and obey, for there is no other way." A simple thought indeed, but it can serve as the basis for great faith if followed diligently. Unfortunately, many times we fail to follow this simple guide. Many times we lose the way and lose faith in our fellow travelers. Trust in our fellow travelers then becomes a casualty of life.

My friends, I believe that the seeds for this form of trouble lie within each of us as humans. There have been times when my trust has been repaid with kindness, generosity, and cooperation. Sadly there have been those occasions when people have taken advantage of me. These folks saw my kindness as a sort of weakness and exploited it for their own selfish gain.

Tough on me I guess, but I do not care. I don't think I will change. Many times I have found that these people who took advantage of me wanted nothing more than situational power and control. They would lie, cheat, and steal to whatever extent was necessary in order to achieve their goal of gaining power.

This has led me to believe that far too many amongst us are what might generously be described as control freaks. People like this reach positions of leadership and then decide that they and they alone, know what is right for their fire department. Forget the fact that others helped them to get where they.

Suddenly they feel themselves to be the font of all wisdom. Worse yet they feel that no one else has their wit, charm, grace, and intelligence. They begin to feel that everyone else in the organization must pay them homage for the mere privilege of remaining a member of that group. Somewhere along the way they begin to lose the trust of their people. However, it is their trust in others that is the first casualty.

These leaders (and I use the word loosely) begin to feel that people are out to screw them. Some even begin to entertain delusions of immortality, like they will be the leader forever and a day. This is the point in time where we begin to see the beginnings of what I like to call "Hide in the Bushes Leadership".

I doubt that you will see anything written in the literature of the leadership field on a style of leadership with this particular name. What you will probably see is an extensive body of knowledge about how some people in positions of leadership begin to feel threatened by their subordinates. At some point they begin to believe that everyone is against them.

Much like Captain Queeg in the classic Herman Wouk war novel, the Caine Mutiny Court-Martial these people come to believe that everyone is against them. In the novel the captain's paranoia and its resulting leadership paralysis led members of his crew to relieve him of his duties during a time when they felt that his actions would result in their deaths during a typhoon. These crew members were then subjected to a trial by military court-marshal.

In the novel, Capt Queeg told the members of the court-martial board that he would have succeeded, except for the disloyal people who did not know how to follow his orders. Sadly, his track record of paranoid leadership was brought out during the trial and he was left a broken man on the witness stand.

This same thing can happen to fire chiefs too. Chiefs can sometimes end up isolating themselves from the members of their departments. It is then that strange things begin to occur. When this sort of thing happens, the paranoia of those in charge sometimes takes them in strange directions.

There is a place in America where the fire chief has become the neighborhood snoop. Perhaps you have met that person. This person holds their staff in such a low regard that they have come to believe that they personally have to hide in the bushes and attempt to find their people doing things that were proscribed by the regulations of their organization. I can see this person peering out of the posies hoping to catch someone violating a regulation.

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