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The unmentioned cause of the global recession
improving the economy
(which can start to happen immediately without any
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Book 8








. . . . . . . . . .


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think you can,
think you can't,



quoted on:-


The background of this article is shown at the foot.
It was originally written in 2013. But it is still valid now

and should be valid a thousand years from now.

by A H Munger - copyright 2013
Unchanged copies with this paragraph
included may be printed for fair use
or study purposes, but may not be sold.
Publication requires written permission
 of the author. Terms & conditions apply.

" Not knowing is the only real source of powerlessness;
what we do not understand we cannot control "

Originator unknown . . . readers please advise


1.0   Very Short Introduction

On Classic FM's Business radio program at the end of 2012 many points were made, amongst them one speaker made an impassioned case for saying that leadership is a matter of inspiring, enthusing and motivating,  which is true, but that is only a part of the How and does not tell us about the What.

Circa 1983 a book came out entitled "In Search of Excellence" by a couple of New York Management Counsellors, in which it was put more or less that  a leaders task is to impart values,  so to get the whole herd moving roughly West.

Why West ?  Which way is that ?  How does one get there ?   Then how does he get everyone to follow ?  There are four tasks which must be done FIRST, right in the beginning. It is common sense really, but important. After the first four tasks, everything needs be done very thoroughly.

2.0   Important First Tasks
The main function of a Leader is to lead, which implies going in front.  But in what direction shall the Leader lead ?  Here is the Leaders very FIRST task, for before finding the way he/she must first clearly and thoroughly understand the mandate, or job description, together with all the unwritten and even unspoken understanding, which will normally lay down the basic fundamental objectives, but cannot stipulate exactly how he will get the group there.  This is true whether the Leader is the President of a Nation or a foreman running a staff of six.

The SECOND task is to assess the position of the company that he now leads. If you are standing at A and want to get to B, you will never get there if you don't first know where A is. Once you know where you are, then you should be able to figure out which direction B is in.  The Leaders assessment of the current position will frequently produce a different picture to what he had been led to believe, so he has to check it.

His THIRD task must be to prioritize what needs be done, according to IMPORTANCE and separately according to URGENCY and again separately according to NECESSARY ORDER. For instance you cannot do this until you have first done that which cannot be done until something else is fixed.  Then he has somehow to meld these lists of priorities into one list that makes sense.  He now has a list of what needs be done in the approximate order of doing it. But all this takes time to do properly and he cannot go sit with a crystal ball in a cave for a few month to do it, because the group needs a Leader.  So while doing it all, he is going to have to do a little bit of this and a bit of that to keep things going in a vaguely correct direction.  Therefore he needs, if not written, then at the back of his head, another list of priorities, being his own immediate, short term personal list, which says:- do a bit of this and check on that, then a bit of the other thing while checking xyz etc.

Once the leader knows where they are and where they want to be, then his FOURTH major task is path finding, actually finding the way; and  in doing so, his values need to be in accord with those whom he leads (which might entail having to inform them better, give them new understanding and improve their values); but given that, he still has to find solutions to all the problems and little spots of bother which arise, like how to make become profitable a bankrupt company which is in a hell of a mess and can't afford to fix itself.  He needs to find a way of getting the group over those mountains. There must be a way. So he will do some careful thinking and send a team there to find a way. He will consult with many people, do some careful thinking, call for more and better information, get tests done, calculations done, experiment, whatever and do some careful thinking; if wise he will often encourage his people to not be shy to bring forward as many weird and wonderful solutions as they can imagine.  At the least, such imaginative ideas do always cause new and deepened understanding; and at best, sometimes, amongst them resides a gem. 

If he is a really good Leader he will encourage staff comment, encourage them to question his thinking and, provided their motives are correct and what they say is rational, he will encourage them to argue with him and convince him to change his mind.  Staff do not lose respect for their Leader for allowing them to disagree with him and even making him change his mind and admit it, but they respect him more.  What makes them lose respect for him is to realise that he is too afraid to allow them to question his thinking or too small to admit he was wrong or might be wrong. What makes a Leader is not an absence of mistakes, which he /she being human will make, plenty of them, quite often, but his ability to recognize them, admit to them, fix them and move on.  A very good Leader will sometimes make big idiotic mistakes, or, if not, then what planet does he come from ?

Whatever he does a Leader has to know exactly where to lead his group, so he has to find or cause the path to be found.  ....AND HE MUST KEEP UPDATING HIS ASSESSMENTS AND PRIORITIES.

Having identified the way to go, the leaders FIFTH major task is to get the whole group to follow him. What comes next is largely about that.

3.0   Pathfinding & Getting the Group to Follow

The next four sections describe most of the essential traits needed to carry out the Leader's function, which, incidently, is a function. It is NOT a position, but a function.  A leadership position is not a gift to give to old loyal supporters. It is not a barter item for political favour swopping.  It is not a repayment for old favours received, nor a blessing for family members or friends.  It is a function, a job to do, just as much as the function of the receptionist at the front desk, just as the guy sweeping the floor and the parking lot attendant.

The necessary most basic twin functions of a Leader then are 1) pathfinding and 2) persuading the group to follow.  The first part, path finding, is a tough assignment if that Leader is truly conscientious and determined to do his best and is not afraid to tackle the tough problems.  Every group, no matter how small, even your local book club, bridge club, charity club, has, if you look for them, some problems which can be very desirable to solve but which are indeed tough nuts to crack.  The worst Leader will deny the problem exists and if taxed on it will eventually explain that it is impossible to solve and therefore is not a problem, but just a fact of life.  The majority of leaders will attempt to ignore that problem, but, when pushed, admit that they simply do not know how to solve it. The best leaders won't mess around but will simply refuse to be beaten by any important problem and so proceed to devise a solution to it.  

Some people are very good at finding or devising solutions to problems, but cannot sell them, cannot get people to follow. So they are good problem Solvers, perhaps good Strategists,  but they are not Leaders.

Some people are very good at inspiring, enthusing, motivating people to follow, but they don't actually know where to take them.  So they are good Motivators, not Leaders.

A smaller number of people are able to do both, figuring out  where to lead to and knowing how to get everyone to follow.  However it is unlikely that humanity will ever know the perfect Leader, simply because it is too complex, much more complex than rocket science and requires too many skills and talents and worse, it has too many variables.  The fact is,  the above short explanation of the function of Leadership reveals only the tip of the iceberg.  There is below a lot more to it.

The second function, that of getting the people to follow, can be insurmountably difficult, or it can be relatively easy, depending partly on the people, and to a much larger extent on the Leaders ability to motivate them.  There, his / her personality can help but by far the greatest part of it is understanding and knowing how.

4.0   Getting Whole Hearted Cooperation

One can call for comment here and will hear many things, like the abilities to inspire, enthuse, motivate etcetera, but far better is it to start at the root of the matter.

Firstly consider whether those people are paid employees dependant for their livelihood or are they voluntary workers/supporters.  One hears the complaint that voluntary workers can be unreliable, which may be true, however one also finds dedicated voluntary helpers who put in far more work, effort and hours than can ever be expected from paid staff. Here it is important to realise that there is actually no such thing as unpaid voluntary workers. They do get paid, though not with money nor material gain and one finds that the Leader of an achieving voluntary team is constantly paying them, by constantly acknowledging and praising their good work, thanking them for it, drawing every body's attention to it.  [This method can also be applied to paid staff, usually with remarkable results.Voluntary helpers are also often self paid, by the satisfaction gained from doing good work, from serving a good cause, from doing something important, from doing good.  Human beings like to do good and very often do do very good work without being paid, without even any thanks.

What follows applies to people, regardless of whether they are paid staff or voluntary helpers.

It helps quite a lot if the Leader is liked by those whom he or she leads.  Being liked does NOT entail being a smarmy, phony, over friendly, Mr Nice Guy making false promises and letting people get away with things, but it does entail treating people as if they are equal and certainly recognising that they are human.  Many people have difficulty in doing this, mainly because they fear losing control, which in fact means that they are already not in control.  As is sometimes said, whoever finds it necessary to forcefully and probably loudly proclaim that he is the boss and is in control and is superior and knows better,  is none of those things and probably never has been.

A Leader needs have humility. Which is to say he needs be sufficiently confident of himself and his being adequate to his task to not need to flout his rank at people, to show disdain and contempt for them. He needs be able to very quietly (this means speak quietly) have real person to person conversations even with the lowliest of his staff. That alone builds them up because his being able to behave like a human being just like them, enables them to walk taller, feeling that they are also human beings just like the big boss. Being a popular Leader however, does NOT mean being a softie.  The gentlest, kindest, most understanding and pleasant Leaders often can and, sometimes, have to be, very hard.

Herein is the very root of the matter. There are four groups of characteristics, attributes, that a Leader needs to have if he is to be a theoretical very good Leader. If he has them in large measure he should, in theory, be an exceptional Leader. 

Does this guarantee that if he or she is assessed to rate highly on all points then that person will definitely be a very good Leader. NO ! Definitely not.  Why not ? There are two reasons.

Firstly, it is impossible for such an assessment to be absolutely correct and sometimes it is bound to be seriously incorrect.

Secondly, someone who rates very poorly on some of the points given below, can, in leading a particular group, turn out to be an excellent Leader and conversely, a theoretically very good Leader, given a particular group to lead, can turn out to be an utter disaster.   How does this come about ?  It happens because different groups led, need their best Leader to have the traits mentioned below, but in differing proportions. So when the theoretical very good Leader turns out to be a disaster it will not mean he is a bad Leader, it just means he is the wrong Leader for that group.  Likewise, when a theoretically bad leader turns out to be a brilliant Leader of a particular group or task, it does not mean he is a very good Leader, but just means he is the right one for that group or task. 

5.0   Four Essential Groups of Traits of a Very Good Leader

The majority of the population, regardless of colour, do not know where self respect, self esteem comes from... ...and many people are short of it.  Many feel that they get it from being respected and well thought of by others,  but that is a fickle and very unreliable source, a false source, in fact no source at all.  The reflection of oneself that one sees in others is generally not worth placing any store in and too often has been made upon such superficial fleeting observations or nonsensical hearsay as to be complete nonsense anyway. It is a huge mistake to base one's self esteem, that is self respect and self confidence upon the reflection of oneself seen in others, which is invariably ill considered and wrong; though that reflection can be useful in showing where their impressions need correction, but one will often walk away shaking one's head at how unthinking they can be and how many educated people cannot even read properly.

As Ayn Rand pointed out so well in her Objectivist Journal many years ago, self respect /self esteem comes only from one's own knowledge of one's own efficacy... ...and no where else. It is that person's own knowledge of his/her own proven abilities, achievements, having proved able to shoulder his/her own responsibilities and knowledge of his own good behaviour, of having conducted himself proudly according to his understanding of morality, of being a decent citizen, honest, honourable,  not harming others but caring.

Many times this writer has observed the phenomenon of a person who feeling low with little self esteem, no self confidence, who penniless, took a job, worked hard, persevered, did well and a few years later he had proved that he could.  He had done it all by himself, had looked after his loved ones, had established himself, was walking tall, brimming with self confidence and pride.  It must be noted here that this is also the source of self confidence.  In fact self confidence and self respect /esteem are but two sides of the same coin. If one has built up enough store of self respect /self confidence, then one can weather any storm.  You can put such a good man down, but you cannot keep him down; he will arise again from his own ashes stronger than ever. Self esteem / confidence is something every Leader Must have.  If he says he wants a leadership position to improve himself, which, if it actually means to prove himself, then he deserves respect for his courage and deserves a little more responsibility or must be sent away, because if he does not yet have plenty of that self esteem /confidence coin from having already proved himself, then he will be an utter disaster looking for a place to happen.   He should go find himself elsewhere and come back after doing it. The road to leadership cannot be a short road, in fact there should be no such road because leadership should never be the destination or purpose.  The purpose should be to do what one does do well.  Leadership may happen later.

In order to be respected by others he must first be respected by himself and only then is he capable of the natural humility and humbleness which is the first thing his staff, helpers, followers will require if they are to follow him to the ends of the earth. There is nothing that wins the respect of staff as much as seeing a Leader who maintains his dignity and self respect and self control and who has enough confidence to be well able to be warm and friendly, without ever being afraid of losing control; and being prepared to knuckle down to doing the same hard work that they do.  For such a leader winning the respect of his staff is not normally an objective, for the simple reason he knows that that will just happen anyway.  This is important because he must not, must never put his helpers down but must build them up, to the extent that they become his committed partners on the assignment.  They will follow him it they respect him and know that he considers them and knows what he is doing.  He must know what he is doing,  OR he must be honest about it and be receptive to suggestions. "Wonderful ! It worked ! That was Joe's good idea"

6.0   Four Essential Groups of Traits of a Very Good Leader

A Leader needs to be heavily committed to reality.  He cannot handle reality if he does not know what it is. So, above all he has to be honest with himself.  Many people are not.  A great many people are in the habit of making themselves feel more comfortable by kidding themselves,  pretending to themselves and believing it. People who are accustomed to always facing reality and never deceiving themselves, tend to be much more honest with others, for they dislike lying.  Those in the habit of bluffing themselves are always quicker to do whatever dishonourable thing happens to be convenient and then "justifying" it to themselves. This is a very common fault.  Once we human beings start "justifying" something to ourselves, we can "justify" anything.

There are many examples of how large numbers of people agreed to something which they should never have agreed to be part of, which they could only have done by kidding themselves, bluffing themselves, deceiving themselves, that it would somehow be alright and good.

A leader must never ever bluff himself, but his store of self respect and confidence in himself must be such that he is able and in the habit of always facing reality, however unsettling that reality may be. The one thing a good Leader will never ever allow, is that his staff do not tell him the truth, but instead only tell him what they think he would like to hear.

Very often people in leadership positions, rather than face the fact that they are defeated by a problem, which usually means they have been too lazy to figure out a solution to it, would rather, because no solution seems to be obvious, prefer to make believe that none can exist and therefore that is not a problem but just a fact of life.   The truth is, within the boundaries of mathematics and physics, there is no problem on this planet that cannot be solved.

For example take two problems.  One a major and supposedly difficult one and one a minor supposedly impossible one. Both are problems to which some people are unable to see any obvious solution and are too lazy to think about, so usually prefer to kid themselves that neither can be solved and therefore are not problems at all but are just facts of life.

Lets say someone appoints a good Leader to run a task commission to solve humanity's (perceived) biggest problem at the moment, which is the population explosion; and lets say those appointing him are sane and sensible enough to lay down very strict parameters, to wit the solution may not harm anybody or group at all.  They explain to him that that rules out any loss or destruction of life, because as any mathematician can quickly calculate, that, at fantasied best, can only retard the disaster a bit and at worst does in reality always unavoidably produce a massive rebound baby boom causing a massive population explosion, which makes it all far worse. (Populations that have been subjected to high death rates always have very high birth rates.)  They explain that rules out lunatic nuclear wars and lunatic spreading of incurable diseases and lunatic contrived global starvation, as well as population reduction by medical immunization and other surreptitious means.    So what does the leader do ?  First he looks at the methods used by China, where they solved the problem and then he looks at the circumstances which led to Britain having today a negative population growth and he gets some researchers to look for a third way, because there must always be better way, while he and mathematicians look at combining the Chinese and British ways to see if they can't find a eutectic combination which will produce better and quicker results than either of those alone. Then they have a method which he credits to everyone else but not himself. The next problem is to get the whole world to accept it.  There are those cultures which would stand in the way, so that commission would probably, much like the Chinese, wrap it up in tailor-made quid pro quos so to give objectors something they really want so much more, that they will throw all objections out of the window.  There is no problem that cannot be solved.

Now lets take a minor, supposedly impossible to solve problem.  This is an actual account. A South African manufacturer was plagued with absenteeism which, in the case of deliverymen, caused serious problems for placing an unfair burden on the other drivers and it sometimes meant that customers did not receive that day's deliveries, which is a quick way to lose customers.  Impossible to solve problem, right?  Eventually the owner implemented a monthly attendance bonus of a few hundred Rand for every driver that did not miss a day's work for any reason, excepting only if he had duly applied for due annual leave, duly approved. Every other good reason or excuse for absence, lost him his bonus.  That meant if he lost a day's pay for failing to work one day it cost him his month's bonus as well; and even a day of paid sick leave with a doctors note would cost him his bonus. So the first day absent in a month had become expensive.  Result?  Absenteeism virtually disappeared and the amazed owner then realized that by giving that bonus he was also performing the nation an amazing social service because the delivery men stopped getting sick. That bonus had magically improved their health and, what's more, it magically stopped their family members from dying so often. A valuable social service indeed. So the bonus was then extended to production staff as well, with the same magical results.

There is no problem that cannot be solved.  It is a matter of thinking and looking for a good solution and never giving up until it is found.  A good Leader does that or causes it to be done.

A part and parcel of this holding hard on reality, is a good understanding of logic. We would do well to teach every school kid, in every year of their schooling, a good understanding of logic and objective thinking and ultimately an understanding and appreciation of relativistic thinking.  This needs to be very clearly, deliberately and specifically done and never mind that it is supposed to magically rub off on them from mathematics and other subjects. In short they should be taught to think. [Here empire building educators must not be allowed to make a great, woolly, difficult subject out of it, but should make it easy to understand and quick to teach]   Many people, including many who would apply for leadership positions, as well as many who are already supposed to be performing leadership functions, do not know how to think.  In fact the majority of the population do not think but merely emote, which is to say, react emotionally. The person in the streets political opinions, for instance, as well as most of the things that they believe, are often just emotional reactions to the propaganda and hype picked up from the grapevine and the sensationalizing media.   Many people are under the impression that thinking is very difficult to do.  They do not know that in fact thinking is very easy.  Actually, with a little practice, it really is the easiest thing that one can ever do.

While it goes without saying that a Leader must have good communication skills, the very foundation of communication skill is the ability to, or rather insistence upon, comprehending exactly, precisely what is being said.  It is important to do this before one starts to read between the lines. Very many do not even read or listen properly, but approach all communication received with preconceived notions leading them to grab onto the first superficial impression that seems to confirm what they expect, without properly reading or hearing what is actually being said. Consequently they read into it, things which are not intended and are not even there; which is another example of emotional reaction, rather than considered rational reaction, holding hard on reality.

7.0    Four Essential Groups of Traits of a Very Good Leader

This part can be tricky and require a bit of thought. Any good Leader must understand and apply the concept of reasonableness.  Any good Leader must also be consistent.  Rules need to be made and if made, they need to be made with care for they must be reasonable.  Then they must be very strictly complied with or they should not exist at all. However strict enforcement does NOT mean unreasonable enforcement.  Staff must clearly understand the reason for a rule and that it must be reasonably applied and they must understand that it can be bent or broken but only if it would be unreasonable to do otherwise and there is no other good way.  But at all times a Leader must be consistent. It is not enough to be consistent but he/she must at all times be seen to be consistent.  Staff neither follow nor respect an inconsistent Leader.  Rules must never be inconsistently applied or they should not exist at all. Compliance must be strict but reasonable and where exception is reasonably allowed then everybody must understand the good reasons for it.  Favouritism or wanting to not be bothered, are no excuse for exceptions to the rules.  It must be consistent.  Too often persons in authority make a rule and then promptly forget that they have made it or are too lazy to make sure that it is followed.  The right to make a rule carries with it the responsibility to make sure that it is followed.

A good Leader must at all times behave ethically, honestly and honourably and with due consideration for others. People will neither work with, nor for him, nor follow him if they regard him with contempt as being someone dishonest who cannot be trusted. Furthermore, when followers see their Leader behaving badly, then they too do likewise.  Leaders must also obey the law, even when they know very well that the law is an ass.

8.0    Four Essential Groups of Traits of a Very Good Leader

A good Leader should not be a Leader except that he has the right motives for taking on the job. The right motive is the desire or willingness to achieve the purpose required, accompanied by the knowledge that he/she is well able and likely to achieve such objectives, or in the absence of someone who can do it, then the willingness and self confidence to be prepared to try. 

If appointed by others then that purpose may never be to line his own pockets or anyone  else's pockets at the expense of supporters or owners, nor may it be to make a name for himself.  Obviously if appointed to perform paid work for the owners of a group he should, ideally, be rewarded well according to results and at market related rates.

Whether paid or unpaid he/she should not take on the job for the egotistical glory of being the Leader but should only accept the position for being able to have at heart the intended interests for which the group exists and for being able to further such interests.

Never ever should a Leader be appointed, who is driven by an egocentric ambition to grab the glory.  Such people will normally sabotage and pull down their best competitors and best staff, in order to get rid of feared competition.  Consequently those who are too interested in getting the leadership position, must need be treated with considerable wariness.  Glory grabbers are never good Leaders.


Background: This previously unpublished article was written in 2013 for A.H.Munger's other, still incomplete, web site "goodfreeventurists.org"  designed to make a significant improvement to the economy, which has been unavoidably delayed.  For the full background see the foot of the Tax Trap

Commissions from book sales and also advertising revenues may help pay the cost of maintaining and
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There is NO tax benefit to the donor & donations are not being solicited &
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