The man was thrust in a position he was completely unprepared for and is completely unable to mature and grow into the position. He’s a very weak leader, unable to build consensus or demonstrate any leadership skills. he was handed what was, probably the worst case of the consequences of bad management decisions ever. He has made things worse.
We can learn some things from Mr. Kim.
Lesson #1: Don’t annihilate your enemies
Strong leaders don’t fear dissent because they’ve done the hard work to inspire genuine loyalty. Weak leaders, on the other hand, see anything short of pandering as a threat, and they’ll do whatever it takes to quash the threat.
After Kim’s defense minister, 66-year-old Hyon Yong-Chol, nodded off during a meeting earlier this year, Kim had him executed with a ZPU-4 anti-aircraft gun—a massive, four-barreled machine gun capable of firing 600 rounds per minute. Naturally, Kim had the execution conducted in front of hundreds of onlookers. In all, Kim is thought to have executed over 70 “dissenters” since coming to power.
Like many errant leaders, Kim sees an excessive show of force as a sign of strength that will teach people a lesson. In reality, it shows weakness and fear. Sure, many who witness the act will toe the line, but only as long as they absolutely have to because they now know that their leader has poor character, no self-control, and an utter lack of self-confidence. Whenever a leader engages in verbal abuse, temper tantrums, and harsh punishments that don’t fit the crime, people are quick to look for the door.
The problem with shows of strengths like this is that they raise the stakes and at some point it becomes get you before they get you.
Lesson #2: Your people are not your pleasure squad
Great leaders believe that they are there to serve their people. A bad leader is one who has things the other way around. In April, Kim reactivated the pleasure squad that had last served during his father’s reign. Women “recruited” for the squad are forced to live with Kim and submit to his every whim in exchange for $4,000 and home appliances. While we have laws in place to prevent such behavior in the workplace, it’s demotivating and demoralizing any time you feel as though you’re only being paid to be at a leader’s service. Great leaders see their position as having additional responsibility to serve those who follow them, to motivate them, and to help them achieve more than they ever thought possible.
Abuse of any kind doesn’t end well. You lose the energy of your people and except when asked they tend to no longer volunteer anything.
Lesson #3: Don’t fear those who might have something to teach you
Great leaders realize that there is always more to learn; weak leaders try to nullify any evidence that somebody else might have more wisdom and experience than they do. Kim Jong Un falls into the latter category. One South Korean official said that he is trying to “erase all traces of his father’s rule” and is “replacing top brass with officers who are loyal to him alone.” Three men who were handpicked by his father to groom the young leader have either been demoted or disappeared entirely, as have three defense ministers and four chiefs of the army’s general staff. Like weak leaders everywhere, Kim has a habit of pushing people out who might have something to teach him, a behavior which stifles good ideas and sends everyone who isn’t trapped by a heavily armed border packing.
If you are afraid of everybody, everybody is afraid of you.
Lesson #4: Don’t alienate your allies
Great leaders know that they are only as good as their allies. They cultivate these relationships as one of their most valuable business assets and consider them carefully when making important decisions. Although China has been one of North Korea’s staunchest allies since the Korean War, Kim Jong Un’s lack of consideration for its interests has been a major strain on their relationship throughout his rule. One of China’s biggest aims is to maintain stability on the Korean peninsula. Kim’s provocative solo maneuvers, including widely publicized missile tests, have irked the Chinese and threatened that stability. Leaders who go rogue and make major decisions without considering the input of their allies are tough to work for and even harder to trust and find themselves without any support when they need it most.
Piss off your friends and pretty soon you won’t have any.
Lesson #5: Know the difference between wielding power and having power
Great leaders never wield power for the sake of it. On August 15, North Korea will move its time zone back by 30 minutes. The reason? The time zone was initially set by Japan, so Kim Jong Un sees it as a sign of “Japanese imperialism.” There’s no practical reason to wind the clocks back. Kim Jong Un essentially wants to tell Japan, “You’re not the boss of me.” True leaders are confident enough in their authority that there’s no need to prove it. If you have to prove that you’re the boss by going around showing everyone how powerful you are, you’ve got a big problem.
Making childish threats and doing childish things doesn’t impress anybody.
And people may start to take away your toys.
The big problem with Socialist economies is that the leadership always excludes themselves from the pain that the people are suffering. Because they don’t feel the impact of what they do, it’s very easy to make bad decisions. After all you don’t see the starvation from your limousine. That doesn’t make the starvation go away, though and the consequences of bad decisions do catch up with the elites if the enough people say “enough.” Then it doesn’t end well for the people in charge.
Frankly, if I were Mr. Kim, I would be looking for a quiet and more or less peaceful way to surrender the country to the South and a nice island far, far away from Korea. Maybe a place at Club Gitmo if he could swing that.