Prophets are historians. It is just that they are foretelling the history of the future.
Good leaders foretell the future. The story they foretell about the future is told in such a way that the future thus described is seen as inevitable. This is the way things are going to be. They are going to be that way because they have to be that way. Every other alternative would be unthinkable. Every other alternative would certainly be unacceptable – to the leader and to all of his people.
Many people prefer the status quo – no matter how bad it seems to them – because from their perspective any change has unknowns. It is better to have a bad situation than to be exposed to a situation that could be …worse, or most likely just as bad.
So, the good leader does not try to seduce people by telling them a story about how great it’s going to be for them. She tells them the story that is, as she tells it, inevitable.
She then performs from being there, inviting them to join her. “Don’t follow me though,” she says. “We are all stewards of the organization’s cause. In my role, I have to make it happen. In your roles, you have to make it happen. It is simply what’s necessary. None of us who are responsible for the organization’s destiny has an option.”
Then she makes that necessity necessary. She does this by developing those who carry out the journey. And by dropping off those who can’t or won’t.
She can only be seen as serious by being ruthless about this. If she isn’t, things will revert back to the status quo. And no good leader can tolerate being the leader of a retreat to mediocrity.
– Lee Thayer