Be of Consequence
“Being a man or a woman is a matter of birth.
Being a man or a woman who makes a difference is a matter of choice.”
An old friend from my days conducting investigations stopped by the office recently. We began reminiscing about the old times and catching up on where many of our friends and coworkers are today. He then asked, “Whatever happened to Ground Hog?”
Ground Hog was one of those bosses whom we refer to in the FBI’s Leadership Institute as a Caretaker Leader. He worked hard and was a nice guy. He made sure the shrubs were pruned, the grass was cut, and the floors were swept. Yet, that was it—he was a maintainer. Ground Hog offered no new initiatives, no tweaking of existing programs, no apparent engagement in daily operations, and, most important, no drive and inspiration to make the organization or his people better. The staff secretly nicknamed him Ground Hog because they joked that he only came out of his office once a year.
It is interesting how we all share similar experiences. I was talking about this topic at lunch recently with a few members of our leadership faculty. One instructor offered that in one of his National Academy classes, a student spoke of how he and his colleagues called their boss Casper. Another said that someone in one of his classes described a similar supervisor as the Loch Ness Monster—his existence was said to be mostly folklore with only a few grainy pictures as evidence.
Despite being a likeable guy and a hard worker, Ground Hog was ineffective because of one fatal flaw—he was inconsequential. I do not use that word lightly. Sure, there are plenty of words no leader wants to hear, such as incompetent, dishonest, or uncaring. But, even the most capable, honorable, and compassionate leaders are ineffective if they neglect to be of consequence.
Do not be Casper, the Loch Ness Monster, or Ground Hog. Commit every day to challenging the status quo. Push yourself and others to new heights. Strive for a better future for your community. Today, resolve to make a significant difference with your organization and your people.
Dr. Jeff Green, chief of Faculty Affairs and Development at the FBI Academy, prepared this Leadership Spotlight.