Last weekend I attended some of the Oregon State Fire Corps Conference in Estacada. We were treated to Tiger Shmitterndorf’s session: ‘From the X Box to the Alarm Box’. During the session he asked the question, “Is there a difference between a leader and a follower?”
This s a very good question. But first, “How do we define leadership?” By efficiency? Endurance? Training? Self-assertiveness? The ability to influence others? While all these are good and useful qualities, are they all that is needed to make a good safe leader? The ability to lead people can be used for good, but History shows that when used in the wrong way, it is very dangerous and can create much evil. That is why my answer to the question, “Is there a difference between a leader and a follower?” is a resounding “NO!”.
A surgeon is given knowledge about the human body as well as how to use chemicals and certain tools in order to heal it. Along with his license to practice medicine, he is required to pledge allegiance to the apothecary oath which binds him to use this precious but dangerous knowledge solely for the goal of healing. As a leader in medicine, he has to agree to obey the oath.
Any field of science or even of politics binds its practitioners to certain rules. In fact, the more power we are given to weld, the more we need to learn to obey certain ethical rules that keep us in check so that we use this power for the purpose it was intended to. It is even true of government as it has to work within the framework of The Constitution.
So in conclusion, one cannot be a truly good and safe leader unless he has first learned to submit himself to the higher principles that rule his field of practice. This should be good advice for any field, company, or society.
If you appreciate these articles, support their upcoming publication in a book called, "REFLECTIONS OF A FIRE CHAPLAIN"