Kathleen Reardon: The Detached Leader: A Dangerous Oxymoron
Kathleen Reardon Tue Nov 29, 5:35 PM ET
There is no such thing as a detached leader. There are detached followers, going along to get along. The “leader” who doesn’t listen is the leader who doesn’t learn. This is a frightening being convinced of its own flawlessness, intolerant and disdainful of disagreement. People like this are chosen for leadership when we fall for the bravado – the conviction charade – the walk, the talk, the condescension and indifference. Sometimes it’s the dress and demeanor. Other times it’s the connections or family name. Occasionally, they just sneak in before we notice. We see such “leaders” chatting with “the folks” in contrived settings after modern day sophists have arranged what will be said to whom and for how long. Nothing is natural and so nothing is honest. It’s the kind of “leadership” Peter Drucker repeatedly warned against.
No matter how much Republicans blame the “liberals” for making
George Bush look bad, the truth is that he never looked good – not as a leader. We now have in the highest office in the land a man who is a walking antithesis to the demands of the time. He doesn’t communicate. Delegate and disappear is his leadership style. We wait for him to snap out of it, to explain the war or the plan, but he can’t stop sneering, patronizing, demeaning, or taking delight in the mere completion of a speech. He loves the trappings of power, the multiple flags, and the nodding uniformed legions standing expressionless at his back. It’s a stage set for substance -- a moment in time when another type of leader might reach out.
But before we blame all the detachment on George, or mistakenly consider him the cause, we need to see how insidious the spread of this illness in the name of leadership has become in our culture. Nora Ephron writes that Bob Woodward is so above other journalists that his special treatment and exemption from the rules is to be expected. He is not one of us, you see. He has passed over that line where seekers of truth become hoarders of truth. And, of course, we are supposed to accept this as the rightful domain of his ilk -- those who no longer need a political compass. Cunningham, DeLay, Libby and a host of other believers in detachment also thought they owed us nothing. Then there are the media elites so comfortable attacking the “political elites.” They have cute names for the rest of us like “the folks.” We are the great out-there little people whose very lives can be sacrificed with little remorse in the service of their latest misadventure. They twist recommendations from military heroes into calls for surrender to bolster the illusion of their exceptional wisdom. We see this superior attitude at every turn. We live with the effects everyday. Many are obsessed with whether we can say “Merry Christmas,” but don’t mind taking tax cuts that keep others from having one. It’s a vile detachment disorder possessed by disturbed organisms smitten by power, totally out of touch, taking names, making lists, and never taking responsibility.