Miasma in Leadership

For a long time, I’ve been intrigued by the way leadership style trickles down in all beauracracies. The style of the leader, let’s say the president or CEO, is emulated, copied, mimicked… all ways of limiting  one’s own special personal style and often one’s training. Its so clear in armies. Checkout the concordance of the leadership style of colonels,captains, sergeants, and be amazed. Sometime these similarities are even institutionalized into rules and regulations to reinforce leadership imitation–at least until the next colonel comes along. From my experience there is no difference in corporations or for that matter in many families systems. It’s not a bad thing. It reinforces cohesion and interchangeability of roles and relationships.

President Obama is an intelligent, careful, and in his later years of office,  reticent and risk-averse man. He considers carefully and so limits mistakes. We’ve seen it work well but partly in response to his passivity,  other leaders have been more aggressive and less careful. eg. Putin, ISIS, Assad. Care is a valuable quality but late responsiveness increases   risk compared to prevention.

Dr. Scapegoat is a physician. He watches the CDC head man, Tom Frieden, with growing anger. Epidemics are difficult to contain and we all know that prevention and early steps are the best way.  Trying to work against a ongoing hot epidemic is so much more difficult. I mean why do most of us take Flu shots? Well, ever get a flu. The energy to treat a flu, to live with it, not to mention the morbidity and  mortality is huge compared to the deltoid pinprick and fear of a sore arm for a few hours.

Frieden’s pacificity of response to Ebola breaks so many of the rules for treating and containing epidemics even though a more agressive response might not have been necessary. The risk of emphasizing  prevention early  is political, not medical, and he is our top government doc not a senator hoping to get elected in a few weeks.

Dr. Scapegoat, is deeply pained by the errors so far, and also  for the number of casualties in West Africa and now elsewhere.  Panic and group madness, including scapegoating,  is always  part of every epidemic especially once it gains a foothold. Leaders like Frieden are candidates for scapegoating but they also must risk stepping up to the task at hand.

Of theoretical interest, is the way our government’s  chain of leadership may effect style.  Does Obama even know how he is effecting his team?


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