One Quality of a Leader

I hope you can bear to hear a few more scintillating words from the pen of Dr Watson?

Sherlock Holmes describes his nemesis, Professor Moriarty, as:
“A man …so immune from criticism…so admirable in his management and self-effacement, that for those very words that you have uttered he could hale you to a court and emerge with your year’s pension as a solatium for his wounded character.

A solatium being, according to Lexico:
–something given in compensation for inconvenience, loss, injury, or the like; recompense
–damages awarded to a plaintiff as compensation for personal suffering or grief arising from an injury
Today we’d call this a settlement. Holmes was reminding Watson that, though Moriarty was secretly involved in shady deals, he had very cleverly erased himself from the scenes. He’d kept his hands so clean that to call him a criminal would be considered slander.

This is an antique concept, something almost anathema to our modern world. In our day self-promotion is the only way to go. From young on, children are encouraged to be the BEST, to be the STAR. When they get into later teens and discover they are AVERAGE, this can be hard to take.

Children should be encouraged to do their best and to pursue their dreams, but there are only so many super-stars you can have in a scene before they start shoving each other off-stage. One man watched a teen take dozens of selfies in an hour, probably to send to friends who’ve got dozens of selfies of themselves to send back. And yet teens may question if they have any real friends.

A friend told me about taking her daughter to visit her mom one evening. In the course of the visit Grandma pulled out her photos.
Here’s a picture of me shopping.
Here’s a picture of me in the coat I tried on.
Here’s a picture of me going here.
Here’s a picture of me on my birthday.
Here’s a picture of me with my friend Jane.
Here’s a picture of me…”

After they left, the granddaughter said to her mom, “Grandma’s really into herself.”
Sadly, this is true. Predictably, Grandma’s puzzled because her children and grands aren’t all into her, too. “I’m their mother. They should be calling me!”
But they don’t feel the heart-strings pulling. What goes around comes around.

A few days ago my husband and I were discussing leadership qualities. There are bold, self-confident, self-promoting types, but we agreed that leaders who get the most respect and help are the ones willing to ask for help, to give credit where credit is due, to squash the “I” and let their group get the praise. To say, “Everybody pitched in and our team accomplished this.”

Professor Moriarty may have sinister reasons for stepping back and letting others get the credit–or blame?–but self-effacement can be one of the tools of a good leader, don’t you think?

13 thoughts on “One Quality of a Leader

    1. I agree. I debated using the word “tool.” Humility is a quality or trait and phony usually smells “off”. Still, if a leader practices stepping back, inviting others to help and seeing herself as “one of the team,” the business will benefit even if by nature she isn’t the most humble.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I had far too many bosses who were not leaders, but bosses. Very difficult to work for/with. The ones who understood how to motivate someone from the inside out were usually humble enough to acknowledge that we don’t all have the same gifts. They knew how to work with others’ strengths and inspire growth. I treasure my memories of both of those bosses. 😀

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      2. I’m analytical too. But somewhere down the road — I think because of my brother — I began evaluating people (in certain situations) based on their treatment of me at least as much as I tried to understand their “why.” I remember thinking (of my brother and a couple bosses) “Does it really matter that I UNDERSTAND this? Isn’t it more important that I GET OUT OF THE WAY?” It was an “aha!” moment.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It should be easy to conjure up a lawsuit of some kind. 🙂
      Yes, it is. It seems to be the opposite of self-confidence, too, but it needn’t be. A leader can have enough confidence in himself to step back and let the team do it without feeling threatened when co-workers come up with different, maybe even better, ideas. Or as the French say, “Il se sent bien dans sa peau.”

      Liked by 1 person

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