I recently came across a pretty funny example of a leadership “don’t” from the life of David, while reading the One-Year Bible.
After David commits adultery with Bathsheba and gets her pregnant, he tries to cover up his sin by having her husband killed. He arranges to have Uriah placed on the front line, where he dies in battle. Joab, the military leader, instructs the messenger on how to report back to David and in preparing him, provides some insight about their leader:
“When you have finished giving the king this account of the battle, the king’s anger may flare up, and he may ask you, ‘Why did you get so close to the city to fight? Didn’t you know they would shoot arrows from the wall? Who killed Abimelech son of Jerub-Besheth? Didn’t a woman throw a rock on him from the wall, so that he died? Why did you get so close to the wall?’ If he asks you this, then say to him, ‘Yeah…and Uriah is dead.’ “ (2 samuel 11:14-21)
You’ve seen this happen. A boss says, “You need to fire Bob.” So you do. And your boss comes back at you with a little bit of hindsight micro-managing: “Why did you just let him walk out? Did you get his key? Why didn’t you get his files first? Did he meet with Human Resources? Didn’t you think to call security? ” And you say, “Yeah… and Bob’s gone.” You probably did everything required of you, and in fact achieved the desired objective.
That story is followed in a few pages by a leadership “do.” In 2 Samuel 17 & 18, David is preparing for battle. He appoints commanders and sends the troops out, saying, “Oh, and by the way, I’ll be marching out with you.” (18:2)
“But the men said, ‘You must not go out; if we are forced to flee, they won’t care about us. Even if half of us die, they won’t care; but you are worth ten thousand of us. It would be better now for you to give us support from the city.’
The king answered, ‘I will do whatever seems best to you.’
So the king stood beside the gate while all the men marched out in units of hundreds and of thousands.” (18:3-4)
Clearly, the troops had the best interest of David and their mission at heart. And it is a wise leader who is willing to trust and follow the judgment of those he employs in his service.
In the comments: Turns out my leadership “do” is really a don’t…