Archive for the Society Category

Characteristics of a good leader…or something…

Posted in College, Ideas, People, Places, Posted by g mcclure, Society, Things on 24 September 2009 - Thursday by g mcclure

So I’m taking an SLA class this semester (Student Leadership Academy). The big overarching question that comes up inevitably in every class and in each discussion therein is this:

“What exactly is/makes a leader?”

And here are the answers that are inevitably thrown out in each class and in each discussion therein:






A good listener

A good communicator




You get the overused, overstated, oversimplified, overgeneralized idea. What’s worse, everyone is carrying around articles, scholarly and otherwise, in their brand new, college-provided, leather, SLA portfolios that say those things and list those same traits. The evidence is incontrovertible, right?

Yeah, I don’t see it.

I’ve known a lot of people who fit that bill who couldn’t head up an expedition to the laundromat. Similarly, I’ve known a hell of a lot of people who couldn’t come within a javelin rocket’s range of being “honest, down-to-earth, trustworthy,” who could organize four disabled hamsters into a congressional joint subcommittee capable of solving the healthcare crisis.

So I got to thinking. You know, those noble characteristics are all pretty vague in the wash, so let’s investigate a little. So here are some top google results for a few searches (if you’d like the conclusion without the research, skip past the links and I’ll summarize):

Characteristics of a good leader

Characteristics of a good teacher

Characteristics of a good soldier

Characteristics of a good manager

Characteristics of a good employee

Characteristics of a good friend

Characteristics of a good parent

Characteristics of a good person

So if you looked through those just now, you saw that remarkably every single one of those is the same person. A friendly retired military man or woman now working as a mid-level managerial trainer who enjoys authoritative responsibilities at work and has kids at home. Really, with only minor semantic differences, every one of those descriptions was the same.

So really, we have no clue what makes a leader a leader. If Joe Shmoe submitted that there is a genetic leader gene in the good ole AGCT double helix, we wouldn’t have a suicidal lemming’s better idea to suggest.

Or maybe, the simple truth is that there really is no difference between a good leader and a good person, and that the only prerequisite for leadership is that said aspiring leader be an independent, self-aware, generally capable and developed human being.

You know what, let’s follow that line of reasoning for a while. Let’s assume that the truth is that you only need to be a well-developed human to be a leader. That, coupled with the reality that there are very few genuine leaders out there compared to how many there are not, has an interesting implication. It implies that there are very few independent, self-aware, generally capable, developed human beings.

Oh, Greg, be careful. You’ve stopped thinking and started meddling now.

So I have. Which all leads me to my point – a short one, which I’ll make quickly.

I think the true measure of a leader has nothing to do with characteristics and everything to do with behavior. Furthermore, I would submit that the most noble and profitable behavior for a leader and for everyone s/he leads is to make him/herself obsolete. By that, I mean that a leader (remember that our working definition of that term is an independent, self-aware, generally capable, developed human being) should work to produce more leaders (more independent, self-aware, generally capable, developed human beings). That simple. Everyone profits. The leader’s responsibilities are permanently fulfilled, the followers are bettered and never need be lead again, no one ends up dependent on anyone else, and everyone moves toward being equals.


Guest Appearing on the Colbert Report

Posted in Everyday Life, Ideas, Music, Poetry, Society, Things on 22 May 2009 - Friday by g mcclure

“Do you know the enemy?,”

Green Day asked from my TV

in just the same meter I used

for those first two lines

and the same meter used

in a thousand lines

of a thousand punk songs

since punk music decided,

“Silence is the enemy!”

(Green Day screamed from my TV)

i didnt read the paper this morning

Posted in Everyday Life, People, Poetry, Posted by g mcclure, Society, Things on 16 February 2009 - Monday by g mcclure

its been a while since last i thought

of that scraggly man on the park bench

huddled under the new york times

that i threw in the garbage yesterday

but i bet you a nickel hes thought of me

forgeting the lizard

Posted in College, Ideas, Past experiences, Personal, Places, Poetry, Posted by g mcclure, Society on 18 September 2008 - Thursday by g mcclure

i saw a lizard
in the water
in a fountain
in an atrium
in a building
in a city
in a state
in a country
in a world
in a solar system
in a galaxy
in the universe
and as i thought
about the universe
i forgot
about the lizard

I’m going, going, … … … gone?

Posted in Affairs of the Heart, College, Everyday Life, Faith, Friends, I'm a hippie, Ideas, People, Personal, Places, Posted by g mcclure, Society, Travel on 19 October 2007 - Friday by g mcclure

I need a vacation. Bob Dylan called it Time out of Mind; that sounds good. My love for life is waning at best, dying at worst. Classes are redundant when they’re not repetitive, boring. They hold my attention no better than the eraser cast-off left on my desk from the previous class. Work is one wing over from class, but no more exciting. My house is quiet and dull, its inhabitants growing stagnant, not unlike myself. Praise God for Christen, whose voice and hands soothe me at every sound and touch. She keeps me sane when I am incapable of doing so myself, which is more frequent than my preference dictates. Praise God also for Himself, His continuity, his changeless nature. Something of which I have no fear is my life with Him; He is stable in my instability and present in my absence. My great Sustainer and source of hope even when my strength is no more active than my church’s youth group, which might as well not exist. Oh wait, it doesn’t.

What it comes down to is a dime-sized patch of hairless skin on the back of my head. It’s been called a bald spot, but bald seems an awful word to use in reference to one so young. I prefer think of it as the exit hatch for my stress and exhaustion. Though, in earnest, it is a bald spot, a damned bald spot. It speaks to me from the right backside of my cranium, almost audibly, saying, “you need to pull a Southwest Airlines and ‘get away.’ Trust me on this one, you need some of Mr. Dylan’s time out of mind, and I do too. Grab your car keys and a good novel, but leave the phone and textbooks where they are.”

For being so unsightly, that hairless blight on my head has got a point. A good point. It’s been a while since I genuinely took off, stole away, disappeared. A disappearing act would do me good. First off, I slap-happily threw up, literally regurgitated, the crap I had in drafts on this site. It’s worth less in the public eye than the current Presidential administration, but to me it represents a temporary closing on this portion of my load. Now I just have to make it ’til I can cast off my other responsibilities. After that, who knows. Not me. I don’t want to. I want a little time to not know, to not care. A chance to step back from myself and check if I still like who’s on the other side of the mirror.

I need to recheck the mirror. Wow. James would surely have nasty words for a person like me…

A few things worth noting.

Posted in College, Everyday Life, I'm a hippie, Ideas, Posted by g mcclure, Society on 19 October 2007 - Friday by g mcclure

No one falls in love, we fall in holes. Love is not a pit.

MySpace is the room with my bed in it.

“Like” is a verb, not an exclamation or interjection.

Jesus Christ is a person, not a cuss word. Imagine how silly you’d feel if you screamed “David Hasslehoff!” every time something bad happened.

No one is “really a good person deep down.”

“My faults are not your problem, and your problems are not my fault.”

Pull your pants up; you look stupid.

Homosexuals are no worse than the rest of us; just treated worse.

Using only one gender when speaking of an unspecified individual does not a sexist make.

“Speaking diplomatically” is a euphemism for “lying.”

Doing gymnastics with your voice does not make you a good singer, just a pop star.

You are entitled to your own opinion, unless it’s wrong; then you are only entitled to your own ignorance.

Stoves are “hot;” women are beautiful. Get it right.

All those times you said your parents were wrong, they were probably right.

I know that doing drugs doesn’t impair you; you’ve told me seven times within the last minute.

There is a God. You are not Him.

We, a People of Unclean Lips

Posted in Everyday Life, Past experiences, People, Poetry, Posted by g mcclure, Society on 10 September 2007 - Monday by g mcclure

Ignorance, arrogance –
currency for a generation,
History become legacy,
scribe turned pharisee.
Vanity Fair demands,
Obey. Capitulate.
Else, decapitate.
Patience: no virtue here.
Mercy? Unheard of –
perhaps lack thereof.
Masses, herds,
percieving by sight
and desire –
zealously so,
selfishly so.
Planting in thorns,
yields more thorns.
Fields forlorn,
feels forlorn.
No one sows.
No one grows…