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Leadership and Responsibility: Is Sheriff Israel "an amazing leader" (his words) or a cowa

Here’s the quote that’s getting the most attention:

"I gave him a gun. I gave him a badge. I gave him the training. If he didn't have the heart to go in, that's not my responsibility.”

There’s plenty to work with right there. But the comment that really got my attention was what Israel said first:

“Leaders are responsible for an agency. Leaders are not responsible for a person.”

Wrong Sheriff Israel. Just plain wrong.

You lead PEOPLE.

That is the defining characteristic of a genuine leader. The actions of the people you serve is a direct reflection of your own character and your connection to the people who trust in your leadership.

Now to be fair to Sheriff Israel, despite whatever authority and training you provide, you cannot always control the actions of any particular individual in any particular situation. Any individual’s actions––or inactions might not even be your fault…

That does not, however, excuse you from the responsibility.

One of the qualities that defines a truly exceptional leader is the willingness to accept full responsibility for the actions of those under his command––especially when things go bad. General George Patton said it best:

“A general officer who will invariably assume the responsibility for failure, whether he deserves it or not, and invariably give the credit for success to others, whether they deserve it or not, will achieve outstanding success.”

In this Sheriff Israel is an abject failure.

Worse, he has piled on the bandwagon of those accusing Deputy Scot Peterson of cowardice. That may be an appropriate description, but it is far too early to make that determination.

It’s an abdication of leadership responsibility to condemn someone under your command before due process can confirm those claims. So far, Peterson claims he believed the shots were coming from outside the school and that he acted in accordance to his training to protect the students from that threat in that scenario.