“Sharpe’s Rifles”, leadership and “Noblesse Oblige”

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I have been watching the series “Sharpe’s Rifles” again. I recently watched the first episode and found an interesting dialogue to share. After an attack, Sharpe (who has been promoted to Lieutenant from the ranks) and the few survivors of an ambush are holding up in a barn. Sharpe’s captain is dying from his wounds but gives Sharpe some sage advice before he dies. He tells him that the men don’t like an officer who has been promoted from the ranks, rather they want an officer who is privileged, “touched by grace”. I never saw all of the episodes back in the 90’s, so I can’t say how things will turn out for Sharpe, but I can comment on my own military and business experience.

As humans, we want a leader who is a leader. No matter what we say, this is truly what we desire and seek after the most. Nature abhors a vacuum, therefore the cream will always rise to the top. I disagree with the Captain on one point; the men will respect an officer who comes from the ranks as long as he changes. What makes the difference is how the man behaves when he becomes the leader. From both my experience in the military and in business I see that a good leader must be distant from those he rules over, any other way invites disaster and disorder. He must maintain that difference, never letting his guard down because a power struggle always exists, and as a leader he must come out on top for the good of the whole organization, including those whom he rules over. What we strive for is really to be a father figure; stern but kind, serious but approachable, there must be no doubt as to who is in charge. At this point he becomes “privileged” and “touched by grace”.  In the words of Capt. Aubrey, “Men must be governed!”.

We see leaders who are “men of the people” willing to debase themselves to get votes. We see a Pope who is so busy people pleasing that he is stripping his office of its dignity on a daily basis (my hat tip to the Avenging Red Hand for that one).  We supposedly love these men, yet we don’t respect them, actually we despise them. The West loves to hate Vladimir Putin, yet respects him, just look at how other heads of state behave around him.

We once had a concept of “noblesse oblige”, or the obligation of the nobility. Nobles were given charge over people, but they also had an obligation; to provide for them, protect them, feed them and govern them justly. We see stories of many nobles including St. King Wenceslaus who would distribute alms to his people at night after governing all day.

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In the realm of male/female relationships women will find a man more attractive who is a traditional type of leader. The more strength the more she will love you for it.  It is ingrained in our DNA. It looks like it may have worked for Sharpe in this picture.

Until next time; Vive le Roi!

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