Guest Post: The Only Fruit "Leading From Behind" Produces Are Road Apples

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Marc St. Cyr

The Only Fruit Leading From Behind Produces Are Road Apples

When I first heard the term “Leading from behind” (LFB) like many others who’ve based their career on taking the lead or helping others in the understanding of what true leadership entails: I was left a little perplexed.

Suddenly it was racing across media outlets as if this was some tried and tested strategy held in the bowels of some secret refuge where only a privileged few knew of its existence and were capable of implementing it. However, those of us that have made careers in the “leadership business” knew all too well: There is no such thing.

Today we’re witnessing more and more of the fallout that happens when this form of meme takes hold. Not only in politics, but when it also permeates through business, as well as society at large. Whenever the term “leadership” is paired with anything other than “leading.” Rest assured in the end what it will most likely be attached to is – losing.

Currently the Middle East is once again turning into a caldron for the express purpose of creating another deadly brew. Where this latest concoction ends up next is anyone’s guess. And guess is all we’ll have at our disposal for the ones “leading” this debacle are not subject to our interpretations of what we think they’ll do. They’ll lead and show us. Probably with disastrous or horrendous  implications. Yet this isn’t an isolated affair.

Once again Russian forces are not only flexing their muscle in regions many couldn’t find on a map, they’re looking at the world as many have done since the time of Vlad the Impaler never mind Vladimir Putin sizing up the how, where, why, and their ramifications of pushing into an administration that not only is not pushing back, but rather seems intent to double down on the LFB meme.

Whether one agrees or not with the strategy one thing can not be dismissed: Others that consider this as possible weakness of any sort, will move and lead themselves straight into, or against it.

Politics is not that different from business in certain areas. Many times when you see your competition deploying fool-hearty or visibly acting on faulty information: You move, you act, you push, you deploy, you _________(fill in the blank). What you won’t do – is do nothing.

Words matter, stance matters, nearly everything one says or does in a leadership position matters. Sometimes what was once seen as mundane or trivial can be misinterpreted for weakness, or disengagement where once it would be laughed at to even ponder such insinuations. e.g., Stating publicly one needs time to think as ever more aggression breaks out in formerly vanquished territories.

You can not be a leader no matter how large or small the stage part-time. For everything you say or do will be viewed, calculated, with strategies built for – as well as against – by all the other players as to initiate their own actions. Period.

Knowing and navigating this is an art-form within itself. Very few tread these waters successfully, never mind expertly. And so far we are seeing one after another wash up full of holes – unrepairable.

To put this into context there was a great scene in the movie Thirteen Days (200o/01, New Line Cinema) Where Dylan Baker portraying Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara is standing in front of a wall sized map displaying the ship movements surrounding Cuba. A heated discussion flares into an argument where McNamara emphatically argues what the ships and their positions represent (I’m paraphrasing): “Can’t you see! This is language, not just a bunch of ships in the water!”

Agree or disagree with the actions back then, the underlying premise is unequivocal. Both sides were leading – till one didn’t. There was no participation trophy after the fact. One leader pointed the course going forward, the other led theirs away. Did Khrushchev take to the air waves claiming victory for now he was “Leading from behind?” Hardly.

This point can not be understated in its ramifications. Many people who believe they are well-informed, have a good grasp of politics, business, and/or world affairs will be celebrating Fathers Day. Yet, I would venture to say 1 out of 1000 has the slightest clue that earlier in the week the U.S. needed to scramble fighters to ward off two nuclear capable Russian bombers as they flew within 50 miles (yes 50 that’s not a typo) of the coast of California. If planes can be considered language and not just blips on a screen: What message is this trying to convey?

The meme “leading from behind” is a fancy way of saying “playing not to lose.” Intellectually it sounds intriguing. The idea can be made to sound esoteric, while at the same time leaving room for multiple ways of defensive posturing when one begins to be questioned whether or not the strategy is either working, or not. You can see the fallacy of this meme play out in mirror form over, and over again across the world of sports.

How many times has one witnessed their favorite team within spitting distance of winning with commanding leads only to watch in abject dismay as the opposing team rallies back snatching defeat from the jaws of victory?

Many of us that understand winning or leading know all to well exactly what happened. They switched from leading and playing for the win to – playing to win by not losing their lead. It never works. Some of the greatest upsets in sports history result from exactly this type of strategy or philosophy.

The only difference here is that in sports – it’s just a game. This strategy along with its tactics when applied to nations is far different. The visible results along with the myriad of unseen potential consequences are now becoming quite apparent for anyone willing to look.

If there is a bright side to any of this, I believe it’s lodged within the fact that a strategy – any strategy – can be changed. Nothing needs to be adhered to if it’s being bore out as to not be working. Or, producing results that may lead to even a more harmful or tumultuous events down the road.

It’s the willingness to admit what’s working, and what’s not, then adjust that makes leaders worth their salt. Regardless who’s at fault.

Leaders – lead. Not from the rear – but from the front – for all to see exactly what they are saying, what they mean, and what they intend to use as proof they mean what they say.

This is not something new, it has been this way for millennium. When leaders employ the now referenced LFB strategy, it’s just a rehash of ” playing not to lose.” And in the end unless one repels from this line of thinking that’s exactly where one will find themselves – on the losing side.

Leadership is about leading whether it be politics, business, or even within one’s own social network. For one thing has been proven over, and over, and over again.

The view only changes for the lead dog, never the rear. And you won’t find road apples at your favorite grocer. You’ll find them where they belong: In the dung heap of history.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
kaiserhoff's picture

You expect Barry to be a mind reader?

He has not yet received his marching orders from the Elders of Zion.


doctor10's picture

Isn't that what they do in  New York and San Francisco "bath houses"?

BigJim's picture

What a stupid essay. Cliches are no substitute for logic, Mr St Cyr, 'leaderman'. Nor are they substitutes for knowledge.

Once again Russian forces are not only flexing their muscle in regions many couldn’t find on a map, they’re looking at the world as many have done since the time of Vlad the Impaler never mind Vladimir Putin sizing up the how, where, why, and their ramifications of pushing into an administration that not only is not pushing back, but rather seems intent to double down on the LFB meme.

Ironically, your analogy is better than you think.. but for the wrong reasons. Vlad the Impaler was fighting the invading Turks. Vlad the Putin is pushing back against decades of Anglo-American  'leadership' that got us into VietNam, Iraq, Afghanistan, blowing up goatherders across the Muslim world, and destabilising Ukraine with $5B worth of bribe money to build up 'democratic institutions'.

Agree or disagree with the actions back then, the underlying premise is unequivocal. Both sides were leading – till one didn’t. There was no participation trophy after the fact. One leader pointed the course going forward, the other led theirs away. Did Khrushchev take to the air waves claiming victory for now he was “Leading from behind?” Hardly.

Khrushchev won, you ignoramus. The Cuban missiles were in response to NATO putting nukes in Turkey; the crisis ended when Kennedy agreed to withdraw them.

Looking around the world, I can well believe you are some kind of leadership guru. You are certainly dumb and self-satisfied enough. It's idiocy like yours that got us into the mess we're in now.

disabledvet's picture's easy for us to pretend that "winners" never won anything to begin with...and thus spouting "loserdom" has no consequence either.

While I'm the last person who should be saying this for indeed I have seen and experienced first hand the dark underbelly of this regime...having said that there has always been a realization in me that America wasn't always a bunch of losers saying nothing while the ship went down.

We did have the Alamo.
We did have Pearl Harbor.

History might remember those who led and lost as "not worthy of remembering well." Interestingly though when you actually read the books you read things like "Hitler takes command"...something all the false narratives of "armchair pussies" simply will never get to while playing their video games all day.

Hitler changed the world. Mein Kampff is easily the most significant book of the twentieth century.

He might have been the biggest loser in all of Histrory...but ultimately he took down three Empires in succession...and the entire world order at that time. This was when Germany was considered even by the totality of its war planners as simply not prepared for ANY eventuality or contingency.

In others "Western Europe" was awesomely powerful in 1940..."and the Little Corporal" and is gang of washed up and has berms were simply not to be taken seriously.

Only the English did their homework on this guy...and BARELY survived!

These "has beens" finished off the French in six weeks!

In short "victory is opportunistic." Great Powers that stand around giving speeches all day are...simply put...not Great Powers.

If this Ukraine thing turns into a rout...well, just ask Eric Cantor.
"Blowback comes too."

11b40's picture

What do you expect from someone in the "leadership business"?

Real leaders first make sure they are taking their followers toward a worthy goal that is also ATTAINABLE.  Real leaders don't waste lives and squander resources on things that are foolish at the outset.

Leadership takes many forms, and the kind that whips up emotion and feeds fear and prejudice is both dangerous and unworthy.  What could be worse than strong leadership headed in the wrong direction?  See good recent examples from the Bush/Cheney team.  We get wishy washy leadership from team Obummer, I think partly because their hearts are not really into this empire building stuff.....and neither are the American people at this point in time.

TeethVillage88s's picture

I agree with BigJim.

Another example of bad US Leadership: Total US Auto Industry.

We have the Richest most valuable car Market in the World.

- Yet Executives agreed to Huge Benefits & Salary for Workers
- Lost Profitability
- Continuous bailouts
- Use foreign parts & foreign production, off-shored jobs and still didn't become profitable
- Current Round of Recalls is Large
- And yet Foreign Car Makers are very profitable in the USA
- GM cut executive pay and eliminated 47,000 jobs in 2009, dropping U.S. brands and closing plants in return for $13.4 billion in Treasury loans
- $50 billion in investments, the Treasury became the majority owner with a 61 percent stake in the GM that emerged from bankruptcy in July 2009
- Delphi Automotive is another example, was American, Now UK Company, off-shored Jobs, still needed bailout
- In 2013, Delphi became involved in an ongoing lawsuit against GM, because it manufactures ignition switches for the Chevrolet Cobalt, whose original design is alleged to be defective.[21]

It is one of the world's largest automotive parts manufacturers and has approximately 161,000 employees, of whom around 5,000 are in the United States.[3] (GM Delphi Pensions) (Non Banks AIG & Citibank) (List of banks in Capital Purchase, Huge List 500 Banks long or what, hush Money? Forced Bailout money to make sure they keep their mouths shut about what happened and how it happened?)

A Lunatic's picture

Leading from behind.......? That's what my Dad referred to as "standing around with your thumb up your ass......"

kaiserhoff's picture

My Dad's best friend, a Plumber by trade, described it this way...,

One thumb, up the ass, one in the mouth..., and he only moves to change thumbs.

hairball48's picture

Good read.

Trouble is I haven't seen any decisive "leaders" in recent years. Certainly none in Washington DC crowd. Dithering is what these morons are good at. Milling around smartly as the situation of the day goes to hell.

What's that old saw?

If ya can't run with the big dogs, stay on the porch.

NoDebt's picture

Obviously, this article is directed towards Obama.  So let's deal with it in that context:

Obama doesn't give a flying shit about world politics or US foreign policy.  He has no foreign policy.  Why?  Because he's focused on his own agenda.  That's gaining utter governmental control of the domestic United States.  Anything that doesn't fit in that mold, he doesn't care about and doesn't pay any attention to.  


DirkDiggler11's picture

Don't forget about the Wookie. She's just as dangerous and equally destructive.

ISEEIT's picture

Well said. With obozo and his gang it's all and entirely about maximizing damage. He was selected precisely because of his deep seated hatred of this country. He genuinely doesn't give a shit about anything beyond maintaining power long enough so as that he and his gang can complete the 'fundemental transformation' demanded by his globalist/bankster overlords.

holdbuysell's picture

O isn't leading anything but locking things down. He's managing the decline that's visible now to anyone partly paying attention and not in delusion...and inevitable with the current flight path and current events.

SoCalBusted's picture

Doing nothing is a valid choice- only in the context of having done things in the past.  In the case of Obama, the other side can make a safe bet that he will keep on doing nothing.  Eventually, the loud mouth that talks shit and doesn't back it up will get his ass kicked.

what's that smell's picture

leading from the front just might get you in trouble if you're on the wrong side of the stick, ole chap.

perchprism's picture


Data defeated Kolrami in Strategema by playing not to lose.....I always thought it was a bogus strategy.

I Write Code's picture

Only a fruit would brag about leading from behind.

Andre's picture

I'd feel better about the author if he didn't sound like a neocon.

"ward off a Russian bomber". Jayzus! Talk about loaded language. Apart from obviously havng no idea how the game is played, he makes it sound like they were lining up for a bomb run on San Diego.

Playing to not lose. Sometimes that is how you have to play. Look at the VC in the Vietnam war, or the Taleban in AfPak. You don't just line up and charge into the guns. It sounds "honorable" but it's bone stupid and they knew it. Think of A. T. Mahan and the concept of a "fleet in being".

One thing I DO agree with - if all you can do to "lead" is to issue orders from your chair, forget it That's management, not leadership, and the two are NOT the same. Leadership requires you set an example people will follow.

starman's picture

Barack Hussein Obama.................fuck you!

cape_royds's picture

WRT to the pair of Russian bombers, I'm actually happy that for once the US authorities didn't overreact to something that was militarily insignificant.

Another thing: why give the Russians accurate data as to the outer limit of your effective detection range? Don't you realize that means that the Russian probing mission probably failed in one of its purposes?

Remember that you're not a leader if you're afraid of looking weak. If you're afraid to seem weak, then others are the ones who are really in control of what you think and do. Read Orwell's "Shooting an Elephant" to get an idea of what stupid and wasteful things you can do when you get trapped by your own Optics.

Jano's picture

Yes exceptional and indispensible. Uebermenschen.

you seem to be afraid of us, Slavs. And it is good so.

we dont forget and dont forgive.

intric8's picture

Creatitive excuse making. This is exactly the type of shmancy bullshit jargon lib media faggots come up with to hornswoggle less intellectually capable sheeple. Take a piece of crap, for example. You can paint it any variety of nice colors.. hell, even cut out a small aloha shirt for it and a cute hat. Seems cool, kinda artsy lookin! Wait, what is it?

Last of the Middle Class's picture

it's really hard to get an accurate poll about what people think then put it into action in such a way that advances your liberal goals on the world stage when a decision has to be made in minutes. Damn I hate it when that happens.

ebworthen's picture

True leaders have a goal based on moral and ethical principles.

Very few leaders in government or industry these days; charlatans most.

Billy Shears's picture

I have your leadership right here: Abandon the middle-east. How's that for thinking outside the box. Some short-term complications and hardships for sure but in the end the oil will flow and be sold in world markets with or without our carrier battle groups. America's withdrawal from this region of the world will cause an initial shock but the shock will lead to a rebalancing and a "new" statis for the area that will allow geopolitical and cultural/religious issues to sort themselves and allow for the start of a fresh beginning ex the overbearing influence of the United States.

11b40's picture

Now that would be real leadership!  

I like it, but the bankers, and the MIC, and the Israeli lobby, and the Oil conglomerates would go ballistic.

Maybe that's why I like it.

PeeramidIdeologies's picture

That was a less then satisfactory revelation of the trails and tribulations of true leadership. Clearly the author has done some light reading on the subject, and might have some experience in the field, but I would say he hasn't the foggiest idea of what kind of "leadership" would be most benefitial to the world today.

IMO "we" as a society would be much better off with a billion (the more the merrier) "captians" and no "Leaders". You want decentralization? You want a free thinking society? You want a group of intelligent, informed people producing a life of their own? Then you don't want a "leader" as explained in the context of this article.
What you do want is for people to understand that there are times to lead and times to follow. No one person will ever know what actions are best for a group at all times. Now if you had a billion people comfortable and capable of taking the lead when the moment is upon them then you would have something very special.
We have all experienced one of those moments in a group of people when leadership is necessary. A decision is required that is going to affect the whole group, and someone must take action. There are three different scenarios that will usually unfold, within a rough parameter.

Scenario one: no one steps up and the group breaks out into factions where the scenario develops again.

Scenario two: one individual does present themselves and a course of action. Interestingly once this happens there will almost always be an immediate group consensus of whether to follow or debate the idea. Again factions will develop with individuals finding leadership where needed.

Scenario three: Is of course when an individual steps in to suggest a course of action which is accepted by the group. The leadership role is naturally delegated and the group follows suit for an finite period of time, usually until the selected leader is unable to satisfy whims of the group at which point the leader is forced to step down, change tactics or become tyrannical. Which really puts into the question the "position" of a leader in the first place doesn't it?

So in conclusion, looking for any one person to lead continuously is a dead end game and also one of the largest catalysts to the problems we are facing today. If you want real results over an extended period of time, then we need to be looking for leaders who understand not only the fickle balance of power, but also their own inner captain, and where their natural inclinations stand.

TeethVillage88s's picture

Speaking of UN-American:

A group of four national trade organizations sued the state of Vermont

Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), the Snack Food Association (SFA), International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) say that food made with genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are safe and do not need to be specially labeled. The Vermont legislature passed the bill in April, and Gov. Peter Shumlin (D-Vt.) signed it into law at the beginning of May.

Off subject, but had apples in Title.

RMolineaux's picture

One can almost hear strains of "Rule Britannia" in the background and someone reciting Kipling, while reading this nonsense.  It is just another rationalization for the psychology of imperialism.  From ancient Greece to recent Britain, societies have repeated the dismal history of fallen empires.  Does not constitutional democracy offer something better?

@highway61's picture

One of the worst Guest Posts I have read in quite a while. Absolute horse shit.