Qualities of Good Leadership – Humanities 4 Page Essay
A good leader needs to know when to make decisions and when to let others decide. If people are always left to do what they want, time and resources get wasted. On the other hand, if people always follow orders, morale starts to decline, wasting even more time and resources. In a survival situation, this can be a matter of life or death. About a year back, me and some friends were out for a nice brutal birthday party. We found ourselves in a forest somewhere near Campbellsville, split into two teams, armed with paintball guns. Each team had two objectives in this particular game of capture the flag.
The first was to bring the enemy’s flag back to your own base, and the second was to survive. We decided that we would set up a democratic system in which if a problem occurred, we would let everyone vote on who would get the flag and who would defend ours. As it turned out, everyone wanted to get the other flag and leave our flag alone, which posed a problem because we couldn’t leave our own flag unattended. We put our government into action, in the end leaving me and a good friend of mine in charge of offence. We left and began our trek through the forest looking for any sign of the enemy flag. Meanwhile, the other two also left after we were out of sight and worked their way to the flag. In the end, we ended up shooting down our own men defending the new flag we had just acquired, because they decided to take matters into their own hands and neglect their jobs. When two members of the other team returned with our flag, we realized what had happened. We had mistaken our friends as two opponents because they didn’t follow the plan. In the end, we lost because of poor leadership. Guidelines were put in place that were not favored by part of the group, and as such were not followed. We failed to realize that jobs had to be made and people made to do them to keep our biggest priority, winning, in perspective. A good leader needs to be able to keep their long term goals in check while all the time keeping tabs on what needs to be done in the present. We lost our balance between offense and defense, causing us to lose the game.
Good leadership requires a bit of democracy and a bit of dictatorship. We live in a world where with privilege comes responsibility. Taking William Golding’s ‘Lord of the Flies’ as an example, Ralph’s leadership style failed because priorities, like keeping the signal fire going, were forgotten. Likewise, Jack’s leadership style failed because it was on the other side of the equation; nobody had their say in what went on and Jack made poor decisions for the group. If both styles were combined, everyone could be assigned a job that must be done as well as have their own say in how things run on the island. Just as the two defensive players did in our game of paintball, Jack decided to leave his responsibilities and focus on his privileges, causing the group to lose as a whole. Confusion as to who our team members were appeared, and in the end we saw them as enemies. The confusion seen in the book ‘Lord of the Flies’ during Simon’s death can, in a way be compared to the way our teammates were shot down in a lack of understanding caused by poor leadership. The kids on the island needed to rely on each other to survive, but instead were split apart and misled. They lost sight of their main priority, survival.
Guidelines are a part of any leader’s job. Take laws for instance; they are all guidelines as to how one should act under different circumstances. If you forget about your responsibilities and break a law, you have to deal with the consequences. In some scenarios you get a fine, while others might land you in jail. Who decides what will happen to you, should you forget your responsibilities? The penalties associated with breaking various laws are made by the government of the country you live in. Some countries have similar laws, some do not. The death sentence is a hot topic in the United States today; its management feels that if certain guidelines are not met, people should be put to death, whereas a good percent of the population feel this sort of sentence should never be taken into consideration. When there is some disagreement between how certain guidelines should be handled, conflict emerges and governments split in two, each side with its own ideology. This can be seen in ‘The Lord of the Flies’, at the point where Jack decides he is fed up with Ralph’s approach and forms his own tribe, separate from the original. Different guidelines emerge in the two groups, Jacks having more severe punishment for the most part, because he feels that certain levels of punishment are necessary to prevent a rehash. In our game, members of the team that did not follow the plan would be hog tied and subjected 8 rounds of paintballs, we probably would have won. Generally, the consequences associated with not adhering to a guideline are made to be unfavorable enough that the guideline will be followed, if only to forgo any punishment later down the road. A good leader needs to know where to draw the line with these punishments, which never happened in the case of Ralph and Simon from ‘Lord of the Flies’. On the one hand, we have Ralph, who chose not to punish those who waive their duties, and Jack, who went far beyond the threshold of insanity in his punishments. A good leader needs to find a sort of balance between these two methods, not leaving everything up in the air, but also never controlling with fear.
The last, but certainly not least vital quality of a good leader is the ability to not only prioritize, but manage several levels of priorities in equality. Just as in the game of paintball we had more than one priority, the kids in ‘The Lord of the Flies’ also had many. Their goals were broken up into short and long term; the long term goal was to be brought home, and the short term goal was to survive on the island until that time came. The passing of the boat while the signal fire was out, was an example of poor leadership and the inability to keep both long and short term goals under control. Having the hunters also keep the fire going was a mistake, because they could only manage these goals one at a time. While they were hunting, the signal fire was dwindling away, and while they were keeping the fire going, they were missing possible good opportunities to catch a pig. If the hunters were put only in charge of hunting and the group building huts was split off into two groups, one to continue building and one to watch the signal fire, each would have a job to do that didn’t interfere with any other job. There would have been no arguments over the signal fire, Jacks tribe might well have not formed into its own dictatorship government, and all the kids would have been able to return home at the first passing of the ship.