"9: Why do you listen to 1?
5: A group must have a leader.
9: But what if he's wrong!
-5 looks down baffled with no answer-"
I was watching the animated movie "9", which I quite enjoyed, and those lines inspired me to write about a topic that has always interested me and at times even disturbed me. "Leadership".
Let's not get into the statement "A group must have a leader" because in my opinion that's debatable, and I'm sure that any one of you out there who has the urge to constantly follow a (/any) leader, must have a million justifying reason but the fact remains that it's a matter of personal preferences. However, I do agree that in certain situations, one person must lead in order to avoid chaos. My debate is on WHO would make a leader!
I live in the Middle East, occasionally in Lebanon (my home country), where the concept of leadership is often flubbed (☚ word of the day - flubbed: messed up, screwed up, destroyed, ruined, etc.). If you watch regional/international news (which I avoid with great passion), you must have heard of Lebanon and its many political dilemmas due to the many leaders and parties, each trying to take over and prove their alleged rightfulness. Now don't take that as a statement that "we suck and you rock!". I know every country has its problems, but I'm in no position to judge something I haven't experienced firsthand (PREJUDICE IS BAD!).
Now let's head to the source of the problem as to what makes a leader worthy of being a leader (before you think to yourself "oh this is going to be one of those boring theses", it's not! It's going to be fun and you'll get a treat at the end.).
According to the very general definitions you would find for "Leader" or "Leadership", a leader is a person or thing (e.g.: an organization) that rules, guides, and inspires others. Well I don't know about you, but to me that sounds pretty vague and subjective.
Let's try to search for "Leadership attributes" for more accurate results:
Good luck reading them all to know what would make a leader! Or you can just keep on reading and get an idea based on my perspective.
One result that I found a bit reliable is this right here:
The 11 critical attributes of leadership are listed below:
- Unwavering Courage (in some cases, courage is inapplicable.)
- Self-Control (you'd have to know the leader personally to be able to judge on this one)
- A keen sense of justice (based on what law?!)
- Definiteness of decision (what about the quality or rightness of the decision?!)
- Definiteness of plans (What about commitment to execution?!)
- The habit of doing more than paid for (Is there an extent to what he/she is being paid to do?!)
- A pleasing personality (Even if it's just an act?!)
- Sympathy and understanding (Again, a close knowledge is necessary as so not to fall for stories)
- Mastery of detail (one side-note: in Lebanon, we have ministers heading ministries totally irrelevant to their experience and background. Not much mastery of detail there! Like a car mechanic fixing a spaceship.)
- Willingness to assume full responsibility (So he/she is willing, but will he/she commit when $#!+ happens!?)
- Cooperation (Is it really cooperation or an exclusive club of plotters?!)
Answer this in full honesty: Do you look into all of those attributes before committing yourself to a leader? (Yes? What? I can't hear you!). It is surely hard to investigate and have certain proof of all those attributes, but don't just simply follow a leader who looks impressive because he/she has many other followers. Don't just blindly trust a leader and follow his actions with complete obedience without having an objective sense of reasoning. Leaders are human and thus bound to make mistakes at times even if they were supermen/superwomen (BTW Superman is dead, if you haven't read so yet.)
Where am I going with this?
Be your own leader first. learn to have the above attributes and be the best you can be as a person.No one is better than you as a human (unless you are an evil villain), but some can outshine you with their actions. Thus, learn from their actions, imitate, modify and originate, but never just follow to be in the herd!
If you find yourself with an urge for a role model, investigate, question, and always reason. Don't just trust what other followers are saying even if they were your best friends, or wife/husband, which brings me to my next point.
Have some guts and stand up for what is right. Don't just stand up to what your leader thinks is right and don't defend him/her when you know he/she is wrong. Just follow the leader's singular actions, one at a time, rather than the leader himself/herself.
Conveniently and coincidentally, I just came across this quote -watching the movie Zeitgeist, that was referred to me by a friend- that directly fits my point:
"They must find it difficult… those who have taken authority as the truth, rather than truth as the authority.
- G. Massey, Egyptologist"
Now, this isn't a conclusion, because I still want to hear from you as to who you consider as a leader/row model (in any industry, profession, age, dead or alive, etc.), and why or how he/she inspires you.
And don't ask me whom I consider as a leader. That position is going to be vacant until I am proven wrong or I have better alternatives, because no matter what the case is, NEVER appoint a leader by default!
P.S.: As for the treat, I consider knowledge to be the biggest treat. If you don't agree then you shouldn't have been here on the first place =), but you're still welcomed.
UPDATE: I just came across a really interesting article on the mistakes that leaders do, which is what you need to watch for in your leader; an interesting read titled: The Seven Deadly Sins of Leadership.