We don’t want to see how it works, we just want to know that it does.
When we have to slam on the brakes, we want the anti-lock mechanism to function. When our laptops update we prefer them to do it in the most unobtrusive way possible. When we want to make a call or send an email, we just want to reach the desired person.
Nassim Taleb made the point in Antifragile that technology is at it’s best when it’s invisible. When we can benefit from it’s existence effortlessly. Is that also true of our leaders? Of our heads of state? Are they at their best when they’re not grabbing the headlines and inciting a media frenzy?
I think so.
Yes, one of the roles of a leader is to be a public figurehead, a lightning rod for attention and commentary. But it is not their primary function. Their most important duty is steering the ship, setting the course, overcoming the obstacles that arise.
It was Sun Tzu, master strategist and author of The Art of War who said that “The business of the general is quiet and secret, fair and orderly.”
Human beings, and consequently, leadership hasn’t changed that much in two thousand years. Which is why I worry when our generals, the people we trust to make decisions that impact the lives of many, many people, are on the front pages, setting social media alight with activity.
I can’t help but think that they should spend less time making speeches and gaining exposure, and more time solving the problems of the entities they lead and supposedly care for.