Even the best leaders can’t please everyone


From the president of the local parent-teacher organization all the way up to the highest position in government, anyone who has chosen to attain a leadership position will always face mediocrity and opposition. Even the most minor of alteration from the status quo tends to bring about resistance.

Assuming that leadership has in mind, and is working with integrity toward, the best interest of the group they must sometimes make unpopular decisions and then deal with the fallout. To some, the results may seem unfair, especially if there is no governing law or established set of rules from which to proceed.

But if the leader has to make an independent decision on the fly, so to speak, he or she likely gets opinions from trusted colleagues and advisors and proceeds accordingly. Sometimes opponents make themselves heard but others subvert from the darkness, spreading dissent that can grow like an unchecked cancer, poisoning any sort of progress that may have been possible.

When opposition comes head on, the leadership can deal with it. If the arguments are sound, perhaps change is needed. If opponents resort to subterfuge more than likely it is discovered too late to affect any sort of resolution.

According to science fiction fans, logic dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few – or the one. At no time is that a more realistic statement than when an organization’s leadership has to make difficult choices for the good of the whole, either as an individual or governing body.

Mediocrity exists behind every door. In any organization or citizenry there will be those of mediocre or self-interested mindsets who sit in the wings, contribute little and complain a great deal. They only recognize how actions affect them, personally, with little or no regard to the bigger picture.

Leaders of substance will worry less about that kind of resistance than doing what’s best for the entire group. Sometimes, that comes with a level of sacrifice when their efforts are lost in the shadows, unrecognized and underappreciated, to benefit the rest.

Opponents with legitimate grievances to leadership, however, will deliver those concerns in an appropriate manner, utilizing whatever procedures or evidence they need to support their argument. But those more self-absorbed individuals will demonstrate aversion with anger and bluster, making personal attacks in lieu of substantial arguments.

This week the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a ruling on marriage equality which angered many conservatives. The ruling did not necessarily support so-called, “gay marriage,” but rather the right of free citizens in the United States to have their legal marital unions recognized by every state under constitutional law.

Regardless of the interpretation of their decision the justices had to make a call, once and for all, and they did. A lot of people were unhappy. A lot of people were ecstatic. But, like any leaders burdened with making the final decision on controversial topics, “SCOTUS” is only as popular as their latest ruling.

While the court does not make the law, they are charged with enforcing it by verification of constitutional compliance and that makes them leaders in their own right. In the end, a leader will likely never gain the respect or support of those in opposition, but he or she must stay true to whatever their motivation.

Yes, sometimes that motivation will be challenged, most often by people who refuse to step up to the plate and take some responsibility. No one can please everybody and it is useless to even make the attempt. All any leader can do is the best he or she can and when a decision is made, they run headlong into it, own it, and be prepared for the response – good and bad.

An effective leader will listen when presented with a legitimate argument. Otherwise, he or she must proceed over the tough wall for the good of the many, regardless of whether it makes friends on the other side.