Leadership and Prometheus

Leadership training is not emphasized in colleges and universities today. We have wonderful personal and career mentors but no mentoring when it comes to leadership. I guess this has to do with the political forces dominating colleges today. We are more interested in the promise of status and money earned than anything of leadership impact that may come our graduates. We do not want them to change the world, we just want to change them. Trying to change someone is akin to indoctrination.

To explain, consider that there are three types of education. The first is an employee education, which teaches you what to think. Anyone taught how-to skills is one who has received an employee education. There is nothing evil about this. It’s just what it is. Next is the expert or professional education, the one obtained by doctors, lawyers, and yes professors. An expert education teaches you when to think. Just a step above the employee, an expert is filled with highly detailed information and is taught when to use this expert knowledge. I would like to note that Greek and Roman civilizations fell because they created too many experts. The last educational model is a leadership education, which teaches you how to think. The problem with this last model is that it is hostile to quantifiable market forces. We can quantify skill ability and expert knowledge, but we can’t quantify leadership talent.

Learning how to think requires a lot more freedom than colleges are willing to allow. It requires more direct mentorship on the part of the educator and even double the effort on the part of the student. Currently we emphasize no leadership education in colleges today and what follows is more of the same that is out there, more leaders who reject quality simply because they do not know what it is. Let me explain.

For a long time I used to think great leaders had great world views. I was only partially correct. Great leaders are those with a dynamic World View founded on a unique quality as their Point of View. For example, imagine a pyramid with five levels. At the top is power. Next is money, after that status, after that impact and finally at the bottom rests quality. Most leaders today seek for status or power and even money without first obtaining quality. The result is an inverted pyramid, the most unstable thing you could imagine. Power, money, status and even impact are all neutral. They can exist for good or bad. Quality, on the other hand, is not neutral. It either is or is not quality. Without quality as the fundamental Point of View guiding a leader’s World View, leadership becomes everything but quality.

And so what is quality? It is based on one simple principle, that every human being should be given the freedom to fulfill the full measure of their existence. Quality cannot surface if we are are not free.

I have found that leadership today advances others to the level of incompetence in order to put strain on them to quit. The real goal is to protect power by placing others less threatening into advanced positions. While placed out of site, something else is happening that we rarely discuss. As we advance competence to the level of incompetence, we are also lowering highly competent people to incompetence. In both directions we redirect leadership strengths into positions of incompetence. The Peter Principle rises people to the level of their incompetence. The Prometheus Principle does the opposite, it lowers people with conceptual and solution driven abilities to their level of incompetence, people who add great value are suddenly put into back room jobs all because certain powers and do not allow for their natural quality to compete.

This is what happened to Prometheus, he was a Greek god who gave art and literature to man and then he was punished for it in chains. When you see people removed from their talent and placed into positions of Peter or Prometheus incompetence, you know what kind of leader did this: a leader with no quality, or as we should say, a leader that does not believe every human being should fulfill the measure of their life’s purpose.

Great leaders hire those more talented than themselves, they give freedom as Prometheus gave the humanities to humanity. Poor leaders do just the opposite. If you are driven by quality, you are a threat to those without this point of view. The only place for you is the private sector. Take a moment and look at the difference between public and private innovations. The lack of quality in the former is now clear.

We hear that politics is everywhere, but what we do not hear is that it has changed. Due to media images that make or break a person or business, and due to the creation of political power centers in bureaucratic hierarchies, quality has lost its footing. Just look at those in power. Look at your politicians, college presidents, CEO’s, and many other leaders, especially mid level controllers. They are often in power because they have either won the favor of status through image control or the same power/status through committee protectionism.

You can measure leaders by the impacts that follow from their point of view, and in order to see this you must first get an education in leadership for yourself, something akin to a liberal arts education with massive dialogue and discussion, unfettered by quantifiable measures. The saddest thing of all is that most students today do not know what they are missing in their education, and even worse is an expert educator who does not know how to mentor future leaders.

Keith R. Kelsch





  • Brandon Host

    This couldn’t be more true. Both colleges and the students are so focused on making money after graduation and what kind of job they want, and they miss out on leadership training that can be far more useful in the real world, and they miss out on the entire last educational model of learning how to think. Learning how to be a leader can be very beneficially in making a difference in the world. Without good ethical leaders, the followers have no direction, therefore, there is less production. In other words, our colleges around the country are not teaching us how to make a positive impact on the world around us.

  • Sydney Wathen

    I agree that in today’s society we are very focused on one’s wealth and that determines the position of power in some cases. Sadly, I think that for the most part as a whole, we are very motivated by money because all others around us are and we can see the success in their lives. This makes the need for a “ethical leader” less important. Obviously, we each have our own set of values and a code to live by, but this can be easily lost when the position of power comes into play.
    I thought it was very interesting when you mentioned in this blog that “if you are driven by quality, you are a threat to those without this point of view.” There does need to be a focus on quality, but again I feel that this trait is very overlooked. It should be posed as a threat to others, but I feel that it doesn’t show as much as one with a powerful voice or smooth persuasion.

  • Linzi Jolley Hansen

    This post really rings true! I recently found out about a friend who didn’t get a job that she was very much qualified for. The person who got the job had connections that she didn’t have. Politics! This happens all the time. Talented people aren’t allowed to progress and lead. Another aspect that I think is important here is pride. You talk about good leaders hiring people that are more talented than them. Most people won’t do this out of fear and out of pride. We are so worried about making ourselves look good that we keep anyone away who might outshine us. That is probably one of the main reasons leadership isn’t taught. Seems like our world has it backwards.
    What if we parented that way?? What if we raised our children to be less than we are? I have never heard a parent say that they don’t want their children to be better than them. Just the opposite. Most parents hope their children achieve more and do better than them. And when their children are more successful it doesn’t take anything away from the parents.

  • Rod Warr

    I think that leadership education still exists in colleges and universities, but that the majority of students do not get to experience it. Student government members and sports team captains are given opportunities to lead and most even get to attend leadership classes that support their organizations and goals. I feel like those students who take those opportunities and/or get to enroll in leadership classes get a head start and a step up on leadership, as opposed to those who aren’t exposed to those opportunities. I think that it is very important to continue all types of education throughout life and keep building on them. I feel that becoming an expert in any field is difficult because the more you learn about a subject, the more you realize there is actually to learn. I am grateful for the leadership opportunities I received during college and feel like it is the responsibility for myself and others graduating to place ourselves in situations that continue to stretch us and keep us learning.

  • Sharon Rosenbaum

    I completely agree with the leadership class. From everything I have learned about being ethical and freedom of speech conversations, I know that a leadership class would be just as useful. It is a great thing that this class is required. I only needed nine credits this semester to graduate. However, I needed twelve credits to get my scholarship. I was going to take a creative class, but then decided I should take a class I would learn something useful on life. I took a interviewing class. This class was super helpful and I know that a leadership class would be even better!

  • Katie Griffeth

    I really like the explanation of the different types of education. I think you are on when you say many of us don’t even know what we are missing from our education and I would agree leadership is in it. I am an older student and now that I am finishing my education as something I absolutely know I need and want I often wonder about some of the classes I am taking. What are they doing for me, where am I going use what I am learning and paying for? Also, where are the classes that help me be a leader or a person that can stand out from the millions of other college graduates? I really think this is important for us as students to know and seek out for ourselves if it is not offered to us. I also loved the part about quality. I think this is missing from so many things and companies in the world today. I think so many people think they can pass it, like you said, or they don’t realize how important it is to even have.

  • Joshua Barney

    Some of the greatest leaders in my life have stuck to many of the great principles of leadership described in this post. It really is a sign of great leadership when leaders have pupils, or anyone under them, who excels in talent because of the freedoms that the leader has given to them. There really is a growing need for great leaders and better educators who will mentor the future leaders.

  • Mikaylee Mohr

    First off, I like how you said that learning requires more freedom than people are expecting or wanting to give. It is so true and the evidence is shown in this very class. We have the freedom to join these discussions and write our thought in our journels but it take responsibility and willingness to learn what we need too. Leadership is a topic that has always been brought up in this class and its because the importance of it is held highly. Education is how we grow in our lives and is how we are able to experience what we do. Everything is based on this amount of knowledge and the hardest, yet simplist thing to understand about knowledge and learning is indeed, freedom.

  • Sarah Nilsson

    Indoctrination: the process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically.
    “I would never subject children to religious indoctrination”
    Or to put it in a less tactful way that would be call brainwash.
    In regard to teaching leadership I believe there needs to be classes on campus solely dedicated to teaching students their strengths in leadership and recognizing their weaknesses. There are different types of leaders and they are not all the same but figuring out how best you can lead and to always be a critical thinker will benefit students through out their life. I am grateful for the opportunity Dixie has provided me with leadership trips in the extra curricular activities I have participated in. I know it’s been more useful to me then a lot of classes I have taken.

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