I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it. George Bernard Shaw
This quote came to mind as I struggled with a situation that has pitted a group of logical thinking leaders on one side of an issue and on the other, a group who has come ill-prepared for the complicated task at hand.
One might think that this is a no-brainer. The guys who have approached the issue with a well thought out plan certainly have an advantage. After all, they have done research, logically thought of the issue from each side’s perspective, and look at each face-to-face encounter with the other group as a dialogue not a debate. The word “dialogue” is a favorite of mine. It basically means that a group is sharing knowledge with each other so that each person in the group ultimately gains greater understanding. Leaders think this way; pigs don’t.
Leadership pigs are basically positional leaders. John Maxwell defines these types of leaders are those you follow because you have to. They have a title that has given them certain rights and those rights have given them authority over you; but only for a short time. Why? Because you usually find that leaders who attempt to lead using their title only have equated authority with superiority. Instead of using the title as a start to building a relationship, they wave it around in an egotistical manner and have convinced themselves that with the title comes infinite wisdom.
So these pigs have wallowed around in this positional, egotistical mud so long that the proper leadership approach to a problem, e.g., proper logical thought, proper planning, intellectual dialogue, just doesn’t appear on their radar screen. They expect you to jump into the mud with them and what that means is they want you at a disadvantage and to believe they have the advantage because of their title.
So what do you do if you find that you have encountered a situation which, if you are not careful, may have you wrestling with pigs or worse yet already in the mud? Here are some suggestions:
- Rule #1 – Don’t go anywhere near the barnyard. If it looks like a pig, smells like a pig and acts like a pig; it is a pig.
- Rule #2 (Assuming you ignored Rule #1) – Wear old clothing. Don’t come to the first meeting in your new suit. In other words, don’t reveal everything you know. Let them think you are a pig too.
- Rule #3 – Hose yourself off frequently – After each encounter review your purpose and your goals and decide if another meeting is going to accomplish anything.
- Rule #4 – Know when the stink won’t wash off – Recognize when it is time to walk away. As Kenny Rogers sang; “you got to know when to hold them and know when to fold them.”
Dealing with inadequate leaders can be very frustrating, especially with those who from time to time you are forced to deal with. Be patient. Remember the old saying; “give a man enough rope and he will eventually hang himself.” In any event try to avoid wrestling with pigs.