Bad leadership is something other leaders do.

Never having worked in a real job for more than five minutes, and certainly never having had to salute anybody, I’ve spent a bit time reading up on military culture as research for my books. I have a quiet little NatSec list I dip into one Twitter for this purpose, and last week came across this absolute rip snorter from Lt Col Kelly Dunne’s blog while trawling through my list, prepping to write the last novel of The Cruel Stars trilogy.

During a promotion course at Canungra, I recall an instructor posing a simple question to the audience: “How many of you have ever worked for a bad leader?”

Without hesitation, an auditorium full of senior Captains and junior Majors shot their hands in the air while simultaneously exchanging head nods and knowing grins. The sea of hands indicated the vote was unanimous – none among us had been exempt from experiencing what we perceived as inferior leadership in some form.

Once silence had returned to the lecture room, the wise instructor then posed a follow-up question to the course: “How many of you are bad leaders?”

Crickets. Not one hand rose among the 90-odd strong course. Each of us nervously looked over our shoulders to see if anyone had raised their hand.

“Amazing! We have a statistical anomaly in the classroom here today” exclaimed the instructor, tongue-in-cheek. An awkward silence descended on the lecture theatre, with a few outbursts of nervous laughter escaping from some individuals.

Whole thing is here and a pretty short read, but definitely worth a look for anybody who actually does have to think about leadership for reals. For my purposes, it’s a just really cool anecdote which I will almost certainly steal at some point.