Mediocrity is the new excellence….

By: Hussain Saqib

A Soviet army general was known to be on CIA payroll but KGB could not unearth if the said general had sold any national security secrets to CIA. After disintegration of USSR, he disclosed that he was indeed on CIA payroll but he did not sell any secrets. His only job was to promote mediocre officers in Soviet army at the cost of brave, intelligent and committed soldiers. CIA’s plan was indeed smart and long-term. It worked and those having political connections and known for mediocrity were promoted to lead the army. The very same method must have been applied in other departments. This was perhaps the most effective method employed by the US which eventually led to Soviet downfall.

Lesson: The most effective recipe of disaster for an organization, a country or a business is to impose, or gradually promote, the kind of leadership that lacks vision, does not know or state what it stands for and is vague and inconsistent in its message. A leadership having no clue to the art of statecraft can work wonders for adversaries.

Those talking about conspiracy theories only look for sell-out. They ignore the fact that major conspiracy of foreign agencies against the weak states is promotion of mediocrity in the leadership. If we look around, we can easily spot this major reason for institutional disaster. It is none other than mediocrity of leadership; in corporations, state institutions and, on a larger scale, in overall government hierarchy.

Simply stated, leadership is the ability to influence and mediocrity is ordinariness as a consequence of being average and not outstanding. A mediocre leader is a person of second-rate ability or value. Mediocre leaders are thrown up as a consequence of suspect process. Where the leadership is gained through heritage, corrupt practices, patronage and personal connections, only the mediocre come forward and the institutions suffer.

For them, mediocrity is the new excellence.

Lesson: In order to avoid institutional disintegration, always choose leaders on the basis of leadership qualities, vision, integrity and knowledge about the institution one is supposed to lead. Those who have a right to choose the leaders will always choose one who shares their values. Corrupt and inefficient entrusted to elect or choose will always choose crooks. They will have no value for education, integrity and honesty.

Another lesson: Uneducated societies with poor values will always elect crooks. Democracy is not for these societies. It compounds the problems of society. Crooks cannot be trusted with economic management, dispensation of justice, fair distribution of resources and overall security of life, honor and properties of the members of society.

Coming back to conspiracy theories, it is indeed a serious conspiracy to promote mediocrity. Where leadership is chosen by foreign powers, the intention of such powers can be gauged from the quality of leadership imposed. If the leaders are professionals or technocrats, it shows that the foreign powers sincerely want to put the country on track for their future use. However, if these foreign powers have written off the country concerned and want it to disintegrate or plunge into instability and anarchy, these powers will always broker a transaction to promote and impose inefficient, corrupt and crook leadership.

Lesson: Quality of leadership is an indication of the nature of future transactions by the country with rest of the world. In order to keep the power to elect visionary leaders, the masses must be educated, tolerant and forward-looking. But this is a vicious circle. Mediocre leadership will always try to keep education away from the masses and will thrive on petty issues, bigotry, polarization and intolerance. It will take decades to educate the masses.

Who will, then bring the visionary leadership, is hundreds of billions-dollar question? Will the democratic process, already hijacked by the mediocre, throw up a visionary leadership? The answer is, no. And this is one of the ten things I hate about “this” democracy.

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  • Talaat Khurshid  On July 9, 2012 at 8:08 am

    A true reflection about the quality of leadership in Pakistan

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