I love a good story. Some of my favorite stories have nothing to do with the valiant hero rushing in to save the day. Sometimes leadership finds it’s fullest expression, not in the perfect prince, but in the simple beauty of being right.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle developed one such character who still influences modern story-telling today. Sherlock Holmes was the brilliant detective with the skill to deduce who-dun-it using only his powers of observation. He famously said, “Remove the impossible and whatever is left, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”
In spite of his brilliance and skill as a detective he had a variety of character defects that made him, how shall we say, a challenge to work with. He was arrogant, abrupt and often rude. His interpersonal relational skills left a lot to be desired. He had a stunning lack of personal hygiene. He was addicted to opium and his hyper-intelligence kept him always just on the edge of madness.
Several characters in modern television are based on Sherlock Holmes.
- There’s Dr. Gregory House – the genius, infectious disease doctor at Princeton Plainsboro in the TV show, House.
- Dr. Cal Lightman, the man who specializes in deception detection, on the TV show Lie to Me.
- On the lighter side there’s Shawn Spencer, the fake psychic-detective who uses his keen power of observation to solve crimes in a decidedly Holmesian manner on the TV show, Psyche.
- Don’t forget Monk, the obsessive-compulsive detective, and the Mentalist also.
I’m certain there are others I’ve left out. The influence of Sherlock Holmes on our culture is undeniable. We seem to be fascinated by the highly intelligent, borderline dysfunctional people who achieve remarkable success, not through the skill of their leadership or the force of their personality, but because they are right.
It’s difficult to overstate the significance of being right. We all know that nothing builds momentum like success. It’s hard to deny that being right is a leadership force multiplier. Nothing grows success like success. In spite of all the idiosyncrasies of all these characters, regardless of the fact that they rarely hold the position of power or authority, in the end, people, often reluctantly, give in to their will and their way. Why?
Because they are right.
However you lead, whatever your position, take time to be right.