The more I work with leaders and leadership, the more I distinguish between
- The skills to lead and
- The authority to coerce people to comply
The more I look at concentrations of authority—mainly titled positions in corporations and government—the more I see people interested in the second who aren’t interested in the first.
I used to think the main purpose of the Constitution was to describe how to run the government. I’m increasingly seeing it as a way to prevent people looking for authority from getting what they want and limiting them when they do. I learned in grade school how the framers reacted to the tyranny of the king but mainly as history. Now that I see people with authority acting on it, sometimes against the interests of people they lead, I get the point more viscerally.
Some people want to work in government to help others. A lot of people want authority and the ability to coerce people to comply.
A main reason for the Constitution is to prevent people from using the government. I don’t know how crazy that concept seems to others, though it makes sense looking back.
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