Being Careful Who We Follow

Leaders have followers. In fact, it is the followers who make leaders powerful. It is important that we follow leaders who take us to places we should go, and not to places we just want to go. Leaders we follow have great influence over us, and we should want that influence to be positive and aspirational.

Readers who have been with me for a while most likely have heard my concern with profanity, and especially its use from the platform, including in writing. I see no reason at all for one to have to resort to the use of profanity to make a point.  But it happens all of the time, even from people in high places who otherwise seem to be decent people. Some people are even stooping to other “lows,” including violence. The debacle at the recent Oscars is a great example of this. Enough already. Let’s get back to decency.

Think of the people who you esteem as leaders. What are their characteristics? What is their character? How do they display decorum, integrity, and honor? How do they display decency? Is their behavior worthy of having followers?

Mike and I were in Georgia this past weekend. The main reason for the trip was to see our seventeen-year-old granddaughter, Mary Grace, in the school play, Anastasia. (It was great, and so was Mary Grace!) We were also able to attend two soccer games that our soon-to-be ten-year-old granddaughter, Virginia, played in while her parents took our fifteen-year-old, granddaughter, Elsie, to play in a soccer competition three hours away. I am in awe of parents such as our daughter and son-in-law who spend countless hours and money supporting the efforts of their children in sports, dance, and other activities. I am also grateful for those parents such as our family who have the time and means to support their children in this manner and realize that all children and parents are not so blessed.

Is there a leadership lesson in parents (who are able to) spending their time and money on their children’s activities? Yes, I think there is. Parents who do so are showing that their children are a priority. These parents could be out pursuing their own pleasures instead of being in these healthy environments with their children. Children learn valuable life lessons in team activities. Parents who support these are leading by example. Even though some parents, especially those watching sports, get overzealous and seem to be competing with the coach by (inappropriately) directing their children and the team! And the life lessons learned from a coach who does not always seem to be fair in who plays and when is preparation for a boss who may be unfair once they are in the workforce.

If there is an issue that bothers me more than profanity from the platform it is drinking alcohol to excess. Alcohol overconsumption has become a national hazard. I make this point fully aware that since I am now a non-drinker (for almost three years) some may think my point is against all alcohol drinking. That is not the case. I am not opposed to social drinking. I have decided that I should not drink socially because I did not usually stop with one or even two glasses of wine. I would too often have the third and even fourth glass. Although I usually did this drinking at home, there was still a problem. And the times that I drank and then drove, no, not after four glasses, and usually not even after three, but too many times after two glasses. Shame on me. I am so thankful that I never had an accident or received a ticket. I did not ever plan to drink, or certainly, I did not plan to drink to excess, for my mother was an alcoholic, as were other family members. But it became a habit. Until one day I decided, enough. I do not know if I will ever drink alcohol again, but at this point, I do not plan to.

Speaking of alcohol, let’s connect this to leaders. When I think of leaders, past president George W. Bush comes to mind. He stopped drinking alcohol in 1986 at the age of 40, convinced that his drinking was an unhealthy habit. He has not had any alcohol since. His story about this can be googled and is reported in his memoir, Decision Points. The fact that George W. Bush has talked openly about this, without being prescriptive about what he thinks others should do, is inspirational. Regardless of what one thinks about his politics, George W. Bush can be celebrated as a leader for recognizing his problem, being committed to the best solution, and staying the course. That is what leaders do.

I think I will stop before I get too “preachy,” although I may be there already! The point I have attempted to make in this post is not really “anti” anything, other than profanity and anything done to excess. I am opposed to behaviors and choices that do not represent characteristics worthy of following.

Leaders are important people, and when we choose to follow them, they should be worthy of our respect. Their behaviors and characteristics should be those that help us become the best version of ourselves.

About Patti Fralix

Patti Fralix inspires positive change in work, life, and family through Speaking, Consulting, and Coaching in three specialty areas: Leadership, Managing Differences, and Customer Service. Her leadership firm, The Fralix Group, Inc., has been helping clients achieve practical and tangible results for twenty-two years.
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