There are two sets of qualities that make a good leader. One is to be tall with wavy hair, and the other is to be short with an attitude. The latter is called a Napoleon Complex, e.g. Valdimir Putin, Joseph Stalin, Hugo Chavez, Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam and of course Napoleon. I’m of average height with very little attitude and hair that will never be mistaken for a wig, only because nobody would ever believe someone would be stupid enough to spend money on a wig that looks that bad.
When I worked in law enforcement I was the sergeant of the department. The reason I was the sergeant had nothing to do with my leadership abilities. I simply had the highest score on the sergeant’s test—that I had the highest score made me firmly believe law enforcement personnel were paid from the neck down.
It doesn’t take much leadership skills to be a sergeant in an ultra-small department. Normally I was the only deputy working at night so there wasn’t anyone to boss around. Occasionally on a slow night when I was feeling overly arrogant, I would become drunk with the puissance of my position and give myself absurd orders just to flaunt my power. But by nature I have an aversion to authority, and I would ignore the orders. (I was convinced my sergeant was an incompetent Bozo with no leadership abilities whatsoever. I mean come on, have you seen that hair? I was convinced he had attained his position by ingratiating himself to the boss in some degrading bootlicking manner rather than being rewarded on any kind of merit or ability). I was definitely a trouble maker, and several times I threatened to suspend myself for my insubordination, but not having the height—or lack of it—to be a true leader, I never followed through on my threats. I guess in the long run I’m fortunate that I’m a poor leader or I never would have made it to retirement.
Growing up most of my friends were poor leaders. They were neither tall nor short, and we all had bad hair. General George Patton is credited with saying: “Lead, follow or get out of the way.” We had trouble just getting out of the way. Whenever we got together, we milled around with none of us willing to take charge, and all of us waiting for someone else to generate incentive.
Friend One: So, what do you guys want to do?
Me: Maybe we could go for a hike?
Friend Two: Where are you going to take us?
Me: I’m not taking us anywhere. I was just asking a question.
Friend One: I’m allergic to poison ivy so don’t lead us through any of that, or I’ll break out, and it won’t go away for weeks.
Me: I’m not leading us anywhere. I just sugg—
Friend Two: Well, I’m allergic to bees. So if you take us by any bees and I get stung, I could die.
Me: I’m not taking you anywhere. I—
Friend One: If he dies, his parents will sue you.
Friend Two (nodding): Probably. I take out the garbage every night after supper. If I die they would have to hire someone to do it. I’m sure they’d at least want the money to pay someone.
Me (shouting): We’re not going for a hike! And I’m sure not taking you if we do!
Friend One: It’s the sign of a poor leader to shout at people.
Friend Two: What do you expect with that hair?
We stand milling around for a while in a tense silence.
Friend One: So, what do you guys want to do?

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About thewritingdeputy

Joel Jurrens was a deputy sheriff for 26 years until he retired in 2013. He has published three novels: In The Sticks, Graves of His Personal Liking and County Ops: The Vengeance of Gable Fitzgerald. He tries to keep his blog light and humorous and sometimes downright silly.
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  1. Claudia says:

    Sometimes being a leader is a thankless job..ha…

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