By Bryan Avila,
Backgate Contributing Training Author
There will always
be people that will tow the company line. Although this is a necessary
evil sometimes, at what point do you break from the pack? What if you
are a person in a position of authority?
Hypothetical situation for you to contemplate:
Your supervisor is talking to you about a task that was due on a certain
day. During this conversation your supervisor tells you that his
supervisor knew nothing about a project. Your supervisor also informs
you that his supervisor informed his supervisor (3 rungs up from you)
that he knew nothing about it.
As you start to tell him that his supervisor was present during the
assignment of the project and a conversation about it that took place
afterwards, your supervisor tells you that he does not want to hear
about it and that his supervisor is always right and will always do the
right thing. Now, at this point you are completely flabbergasted at the
fact that your supervisor does not want to know all the facts, only what
he wants to hear. Do you keep your mouth shut or do you stand up for
This scenario has played out many times over the years and will always
continue to play out. Unfortunate as it is, some people are just like
that. What can possibly lead them to abandon their principals (assuming
that they had some to begin with) just to fall in line with everyone
else? Is it the possibility of a future promotion? Is it that they may
not want any type of conflict? I am sure that the answer will vary from
person to person.
I am going to paraphrase here from a great book that I read years ago:
Every Man a Tiger by Gen Chuck Horner, USAF Retired. The true virtue of
an individual is the ability to make decisions when everyone else is
unwilling to make one. The true testament of an individual is the
ability to make a decision that you know is right even when everyone
else thinks that you are wrong.
This passage from his book has stuck with me throughout the many years
since I first read it and I am reminded of it every time someone either
refuses to make a decision or is unwilling to make the right decision
because they do not want to be seen as going across the grain.
I believe that it is truly sad that so many of our so-called leaders
these days lack the intestinal fortitude to make a decision, albeit the
right decision, for fear of either being wrong or having a complete lack
of integrity and succumbing to the pressure of the popular opinion.
These “leaders” (in some cases they are barely a manager) have not found
their own voice yet and do not truly believe in what they say. How can
we trust, follow and believe in a leader that does not believe in
It can be argued that having the ability to lead is something that we
are either born with or can be taught. Others believe that you can’t
teach leadership. If we truly look at ourselves, we will find that we
are all leaders at some point in our lives.
I believe that having the ability to lead in a successful manner boils
down to having the ability to look beyond oneself and see the bigger
picture on how we are affected by the circumstances around us as well as
the effect that not acting will have. We may be thrust into a position
of leadership and never had wanted it, yet be more successful than
someone that wanted it in the first place.
Acting on behalf of the greater good is something that we may not want
to do but may have to do. The most effective leaders of our times, past
and present, all had something in common. They truly believed in what
they were doing. They believed in their message even though they faced a
great opposition from society. They knew what had to be done and were
willing to do it. They took the bold step and continued their fighting
for the plight with their values, morals and ethical beliefs intact in
the face of adversity, whether we personally agree with their message or
These leaders were willing to listen to what others had to say,
especially their critics and understand their point of view even when
few wanted to understand them and their point of view. They were able to
ask others about how they are viewed and accept the criticism in order
to improve themselves.
The type of leader that you want to be should reflect who you are and
not what someone else wants you to be. You have to be able to articulate
what it is that you want and how you are going to get there. Be true to
yourself. When you believe in yourself and find your inner voice others
will believe in you and willingly follow.
What type of leader are you? Do you even have a voice?
Editor's note: Corrections.com and Backgate Website
Contributing author, Bryan Avila started working as a Police Officer
in 1994 while attending Norwich University in Northfield, VT. In
1999 he began working for the Vermont Dept of Corrections while still
working as a Part-Time Police Officer. In 2007 he left public
service until 2009 when he began working for the Texas Department of
Criminal Justice. - Note; the views expressed within this article are
opinion and do not reflect those of the TDCJ (Texas Dept. of
Criminal Justice) in any way.