“But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord to be used for making atonement by sending it into the wilderness as a scapegoat.”
— Leviticus 16:10 (NIV)
SCAPEGOATS are those people, who, for no fault of their own, have been lambasted and sent out into the wilderness — they are excluded from the team, they are disempowered, and they find themselves in many different ways on the outer.
Is this familiar to you? Do you know someone who’s been treated like this?
Bullying might as well run in leadership circles as any other circle. Leaders who subscribe to the use of position and coercive power are those that will use the scapegoat tactic — in their estimation, for a just cause; a disciplinary cause. But the test in all this is a good leader is slow to anger and abundant in grace, because they know that’s how they get the best out of people — by being collaborative and not combative.
Those who have power ought not to feel threatened by those who haven’t.
But the fact of life is that people in power are often threatened by those under them. When this occurs, and it’s unchecked, there is the real possibility that position power and coercive power will be used — against the one. I’m not talking the one who is divisive in the team, or who’s off reservation. No, I’m talking the one who is meticulous in trying her or his best. When such a person as someone who’s concerned for the right things is targeted it reinforces a horribly dangerous culture in the team — “so long as she or he is in the firing line, and not me, I’m safe, and it’s all good.” An each-to-their-own culture develops; that is not team culture. Hence, the scapegoat.
The scapegoat is seen to get in the way of a leader’s objectives. It is also ‘convenient’ when there comes a time for the team’s sin to be placed on the back of the scapegoat. Ever noticed how everyone else in the team is allowed to feel good at the jettisoning of the scapegoat?
A leader cannot justify ostracising even one person to justify their objectives — no matter how compelling the objective is. People come first. Good leaders use the capacity they have before them, positively. In every team member there is capacity.
A good leader is about fairness on the one hand, and inclusivity on the other. They know they cannot coerce the team or any of its members. They also know that it’s unwise to use the power of their position. A good leader brings the whole of the team with them in realising the vision, even with those they find difficult to like.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.