Leadership and Heroism
I think I've said before that I dislike the "hero" version of the leader -- the one who comes in, makes some snap decisions and stirring pronouncements... the Hollywood hero. Simplistic solutions that work only on sitcom-level problems. They're great on the screen, but worse than useless in real life.
But a recent article in the Toronto Star, a companion piece to the review of Hotel Rwanda, casts Romeo Dallaire in a similar light. Writer Geoff Pevere says:
No one else was trying to stir us from our O.J. stupor, and no one else seemed to represent the unflinching, if ultimately futile, moral certitude embodied by Dallaire.
Also notable is that, in this attitude-saturated day and age, Dallaire seems almost entirely unburdened by irony. In the book and the film, the soldier, an apparently genuine idealist, sees his military calling as a moral mission.
He sees what happened in Rwanda in stark, uncomplicated terms: a devil's victory.
A lot of the Hollywood-style leaders go wrong when they make all aspects of leadership as simple as the moral simplicity. The trick is to keep that moral simplicity and certainty intact while you use it to navigate through intense and complicated human situations. The simplicity is the easy part; it's the complexity of the actions that it leads to that separate the Hollywood leaders from truly heroic leaders like Romeo Dallaire.
(I'm not sure whether the article is available to non-subscribers to the Star, but the URL is http://tinyurl.com/6zkv6.)