The story goes like this – Alexander and his army were passing though a desert, they had completely run out of drinking water and fresh supply was no where in sight. A full day’s march in the killing sun had taken its toll, a few soldiers collapsed of dehydration and the condition of those still on their feet was only slightly better. Alexander ordered a halt and sent out some soldiers into the desert looking for water. The soldiers returned after a couple of hours with a small jar, blessedly full of water, and offered it to the king, “There was not another drop, Sire.” Alexander, however, was not amused. He asked, “So, you expect your king to quench his thirst when his army has not had a drop of water to drink for more than a day?” And with this he poured the jar’s contents on the blazing sand. What would you have done in Alexander’s position?
Going by the general run of today’s leaders, you would have snatched the jar from the soldiers’ hands and greedily poured the water, to the last drop, down your throat, and perhaps asked for more. This un-Alexander-like behaviour has become so common that it does not even merit a raised eyebrow any more. We have chief executive officers drawing total emoluments five hundred times more than the daily wage earner in the same company. We have golden parachutes for non-performing CEOs to bail out with after destroying the organisations they had headed. Then we have opulently appointed corporate head quarters controlling, as if, poverty-stricken branch offices - all profit centres in their own right.
I don’t call such so-called leaders selfish, I call them foolish. Had they been selfish they would have pursued their real self-interest, which, for leaders, is not separable from the welfare of their troops.