Byron's Babbles

Cosmetic Leadership

thestagatthepoolThis week’s leadership lesson (#12) from John Parker Stewart in 52 Leadership Lessons: Timeless Stories For The Modern Leader  used Aesop’s Fable “The Stag at the Pool” to teach us an important leadership lesson. For the sake of making this post more worthwhile here is the fable:

A stag saw his shadow reflected in the water, and greatly admired the size of his horns, but felt angry with himself for having such weak feet.

While he was thus contemplating himself, a Lion appeared at the pool.

The Stag betook himself to flight, and kept himself with ease at a safe distance from the Lion, until he entered a wood and became entangled with his horns.

The Lion quickly came up with him and caught him.

When too late he thus reproached himself:

“Woe is me! How have I deceived myself! These feet which would have saved me I despised, and I gloried in these antlers which have proved my destruction.”

This is a pretty powerful story when you think about it. So, what is the moral of this Aesop’s Fable? “What is most truly valuable is often underrated.” Stewart taught us not to get caught up in the “cosmetics” of life. He suggested we get to caught up in the visibly superior qualities. I believe we do this personally and in our roles as leaders. I call this “selling the sizzle instead of the steak.” We need to make sure we are doing the right things according to our strategies, vision, mission, and core values and not getting sidetracked with attractive “antlers” that will get us all tangle up in things that, on the surface, look cosmetically attractive.

“What is worth most is often valued least.” ~ John Parker Stewart

Lirik lagu Show Me A Leader Alter Bridge copyWhen reflecting on this I think of the awesome new song just released by the great band Alter Bridge on their new album The Last Her0. coming out on October 7th. The song is Show Me A Leader. Click here to watch the video of the song. Trust me, I will be doing some separate blogging about the song and band in the near future, but for now I believe “The Stag at the Pool” story relates to the song. Here are the lyrics:

“Show Me A Leader”

Well they’re selling another messiah
Here tonight
But we’re all way too numb and divided
To buy it

Singing
No no no
We are all too divided this time
No no no

Show me a leader that won’t compromise
Show me a leader so hope never dies
We need a hero this time
No no no

Disillusioned and tired of waiting
For the one
Whose intentions are pure unpersuaded
We can trust

Singing
No no no
‘Cause a promise is never enough
No no no

Show me a leader that won’t compromise
Show me a leader so hope never dies
We need a hero this time

I know, I know
I know if we’re to survive
We need to know this is not the end
How will we ever get by
It’s getting harder to fight out here on our own

Show me a leader that won’t compromise
Show me a leader so hope never dies
Show me a leader that knows what is right
Show me a leader so hope can survive
We need a hero this time

No no no
We need a hero this time
Or we will never survive
No no no
We need a hero this time
Or we will never survive

~ Alter Bridge
Just the fact that the song starts out with, “They’re selling another messiah here tonight, but we’re all too numb and divided to buy it” says to me we do not want the cosmetically glamorous leader we have unfortunately gotten used to. We need to be leaders that are consistent in our principles. When leaders are unpredictable and make declarations based on whims, we paralyze the people beneath us. How are they supposed to make decisions if they don’t know what is really right? Because, as the song says, “A promise is never enough.” If we are always looking for and falling for the cosmetically glamorous we will end up compromising what is right for “sizzle” and not the “steak.” So, let’s not compromise, be tempted, or deceived by glamorous so called opportunities that don’t match our capacity, core values, background, or strengths. Let’s “Be Leaders!”
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