Michael Eriksson
A Swede in Germany
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Poor leaders

Ana Luciaw on Lostw is splendid example of the difference between someone who wants to lead and someone who makes a good leader: Yes, she does have the ability to make people follow her (at least on the show, in real-life she may well have been beaten to pulp instead); however:

  1. She does not think rationally, but is driven by emotions and a wish to lead.

  2. She does not use rational arguments, but brute force and (unsophisticated) emotional manipulation.

  3. She has little regard for the emotions and opinions of others, and is hell-bent on having it her way—this while giving no indication that she has a superior knowledge or intelligence, but rather the contrary, and while lacking entirely in wisdom.

  4. She acts with too little thinking, culminating in the fatal shooting of Shannon. (This particular incident, taken alone, would have been forgivable, considering the extreme circumstances; however, it was not a single incident, but just the worst of many—and worst only by a small margin.) In some situations it is more important to act fast than to act well; however, in the vast majority, even ten seconds of thought can bring immense benefits—while not in anyway jeopardizing the situation. In other cases, minutes, hours, or even days, may be worth the investment.

  5. She fails to inform others of her plans and ideas until she absolutely has to. The consequences: She does not get feedback that allows for correction, she risks others unwittingly making competing and/or incompatible plans, and she demotivates and angers her comrades.

  6. Generally, she lacks flexibility and appears prone to the sunk-cost fallacy.

  7. Her leadership is a long series of bad decisions and displays of poor judgment, with so few good ones intermingled that a coin-tosser would have done better—not merely as well, but better.

  8. She is ruthless and lets the end justify the means. (While this may have some justification in a “Lost” scenario, she also let the cost of the means exceed the gain of the end—which is just irrational.)

  9. Her inner and outer anger and lack of self-insight are grave weaknesses that have no place in a leader of any kind.

  10. Her resistance to stress is too low for a good leader in an “interactive” setting.

A particular issue is that she sometimes gives entirely trivial orders, like telling the woman next to the kids to watch the kids... There may be some small positive effect for her, in that people are taught to obey her; however, this is not necessarily good for the group, she may well cause anger and resentment, and the initiatives of others may be stifled. Notably, while there are situations with irresponsible and incompetent people where trivial orders are necessary, this is only rarely the case—outside of employment situations where work often has to be explicitly divided and a clear, formal hierarchy exists.


Such commands, outside of a formal hierarchy, are also arguably unethical, because they put the other party in an impossible and undeserved situation: Either comply and be reduced to errand boy—or question the command and look entirely unreasonable.

If we compare this with the leadership situation in the other group of survivors, then it is notable that the competence level of their leaders was noticeably higher, that they had several leadership figures (of varying strength, true, but not a dictatorship), that the leaders tended to be the most competent in at least some regard (while the opposite applies to Ana Lucia), that no-one tried to lead for the sake of being a leader, but either because a leader was needed or because co-incidence or the expectations of others naturally put him in a leadership position. (That said, I found the development of leadership in that group in season one to be far from optimal; the situation in Ana Lucia’s group in season two, however, was catastrophic.)


The above was written while watching the flash-backs following the shooting that re-told events from the viewpoint of the second group: The later shown reactions of Ana Lucia to the shooting and the ensuing events puts her in an even worse light (taking no responsibility, trying to avoid a fair evaluation, enforcing obedience with a gun, ...). Similarly, the pre-crash background given, shows a severely disturbed and unbalanced woman, who clearly was a danger to her surroundings—yes, this was perfectly understandable considering the circumstances; no, this does not change the fact that she was a severe liability.

It is also interesting to note that once she was relieved of her command, her personality and behaviour changed drastically. Although other factors likely contributed, this is an indication that she may have tried fill a role which was contrary to her character (TODO: Article on small dogs with passive humans and analogy with leadership.)