Monday, January 17, 2011

Leadership ala Keith Richards?

I've been reading Keith Richards' memoir, Life (Little Brown, 2010), which is jaw-dropping and hilarious - sometimes by turns, sometimes simultaneously, when I came across a leadership lesson of all things. Keith is talking about how when National Service (mandatory service in the armed forces) was abolished in England in 1960, he suddenly found himself with a couple of years of free time, when out pops this passage:

My life had been plodding along nicely until I found out there was no National Service. There was no way I was going to get out of this goddamn morass, the council estate, the very small horizons. Of course if I'd done it, I'd probably be a general by now. There's no way to stop a primate. If I'm in, I'm in. When they got me in the scouts, I was patrol leader in three months. I clearly like to run guys about. Give me a platoon, I'll do a good job. Give me a company, I'll do even better. Give me a division, and I'll do wonders. I like to motivate guys, and that's what came in handy with the Stones. I'm really good at pulling a bunch of guys together. If I can pull a bunch of useless Rastas into a viable band and also the Winos, a decidedly unruly band of men, I've got something there. It's not a matter of cracking the whip, it's a matter of just sticking around, doing it, so they know you're in there, leading from the front and not from behind.
And to me, it's not a matter of who's number one, it's what works.