Risk and Leadership

“Caligula or Nero, those treasure-seekers, those desirers of the impossible, would have accorded to the poor wretch, in exchange for his wealth, the liberty he so earnestly prayed for. But the kings of modern times, restrained by the limits of mere probability, have neither courage nor desire. They fear the ear that hears their orders, and the eye that scrutinizes their actions.”  (from The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexander Dumas – on the Abbe Faria’s offer of his treasure for his freedom)

The is no leadership without risk.  Sad to say it is often the evil men; the Caligula’s and the Nero’s who are worse men and better leaders than “good” men because their lust for wealth or power drives them to attempt the impossible.  They do not fear the eyes that scrutinize or the ears that hear their plans.  They risk all.  It takes more than good character and good intentions and even good beliefs to be a good leader.  It takes faith.  It takes 225px-Louis_Français-Dantès_sur_son_rocherwillingness to risk all in pursuit of those good things, and to take whatever may come.  It would be insanity to risk our reputation on the crazy old Abbe Faria’s treasure.  Much safer to keep him and our reputation locked up safe and sound in the Château d’If.  But leaders don’t lead by protecting themselves or their reputations; leaders always lead at the risk of their reputations.  This is why the greatest leader ever took the greatest risk when he gave up his good name to rescue us from our prison, and in the process gained the Name that is above all names.