Smathermather's Weblog

Remote Sensing, GIS, Ecology, and Oddball Techniques

Quick narrative on the distinction between leadership and power… .

Posted by smathermather on April 20, 2012

Leadership vs. Power:

Off topic here a bit.  I think this post will end up categorized as “other”… .

A while back I met a fellow we’ll call Bob, who has spent a long time in the tech world, implementing, for example, some of the first closed circuit TVs for video feeds at a statehouse in the 1970s.

As he tells the story, the closed circuit TVs were so that House members would be able to keep track of developments on the House floor (e.g. know when it was time to vote) from their offices, therefore making them more efficient.  Bob was the contractor managing the installation and decided it would be better for the democratic process if the governor also had access to that feed.  So, he ran coax cable up to the governor’s office, installed a television, and turned the feed on.

Several hours later, he got a call from the Speaker of the House demanding that he turn off the feed to the governor.  His answer: “Yes Maam.”

Two hours later, the Speaker called back, “Bob.  Turn the feed back on.”

“Yes Maam.”

“And Bob.”

“Yes Maam?”

“You played me.”

“Yes Maam.”

Bob told this story as a parable of the distinction between power and leadership to his grandson.  The Speaker of the House had power.  Bob demonstrated leadership.  I don’t know if his grandson was listening, but I know I was.

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