Lesson In Leadership:
When choosing a leader, a group cannot tell the difference between the actual presence of talent, and the mere appearance of it.
In the Donner Saga, the pioneers chose James Reed as their first leader, because he acted like someone who had confidence and bravado. Sadly, he had
absolutely no judgment; and simply chose the route that might get his party to California first, allowing them to take all the best land. Reed had no
concept of the risks they were taking, of possible dangers, nor how to cope with likely crises such as lack of food, water, and the presence of
first-nations people. He ended up killing a member of the party even before the first snow fell, and had to be deposed and banished.
Some cock-sure leaders actually do
have skill coupled with a brash manner. The empresarios who led the anglo settlement of Texas included a
number of such leaders, and the Mexican government appreciated them and gave them free reign because of their proven ability to solve problems in
their parties with no outside aid. Indeed, the Mexican government grew suspicious of the empresarios precisely because they were so much more
successful than Mexican government-led efforts to found settlements.
Generally, though, crowds of voters cannot spot the difference between personality and skill.
The Greek general Xenophon lived out an example of this in his Anabasis.
When the mercenary army of 10,000 were trapped in the center of the
hostile Persian Empire, a thousand miles from home, with all their senior generals assassinated, the troops elected a general from among the surviving
officers. Xenophon was offered the position, but refused it because his rival Chirisophus was insisting that he
, as a Spartan, be given
command instead. Xenophon foresaw that Chirisophus would make a poor general. Rather than fight for the command of the army, Xenophon supported his
more popular rival. When Chirisophus made weak choices that got men (and eventually himself) killed, Xenophon stepped in and filled the vacancy,
saving the now-grateful army, and leading a fighting retreat back toward the Greek mainland.
If you were a member of the pioneer band, you would have needed to argue against Reed as group leader. Some actually did refuse to follow him,
rejoin-ed the main group, and made it to California with the larger flood of settlers.
edit on 27/5/2016 by redempsh because: Donna