Risking a big headline here, I would like to take on the importance of – or hype about – leadership, or being a leader. Google has this today, “Google supports #BanBossy from Lean In & the Girl Scouts. Encourage girls to lead.”
We often think of leaders as courageous individuals who can inspire others to follow their ideas, who are strong and powerful. Well, before we get too carried away, let’s talk about what makes a leader a leader. In the most basic sense, a leader is only such when there are people willing to follow him or her. So, does a leader make a leader or a follower make a leader? Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to attribute “valuable” characteristics to a mediocre bunch. I just think that the first followers and early adopters are the ones to take the prize here. The first follower(s) makes the leader. Check it out in action, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fW8amMCVAJQ.
Going further with this, it was the first follower who made the judgment that what someone else was doing, whether they realized it or not, had value. So, first followers are the people with a capacity to judge, right? They also were not afraid to stick their neck out, seeing the initial reaction to the dancing guy’s actions. Do I hear courageous? They also were willing to learn what the other people was doing and do it (trust it) as well. Insert more good epithets.
Alternatively, the leader, once he or she realizes they are such, will often find themselves bound by their followers, and instead of doing what they prefer, they will do what the followers agree to or support (best example, politicians. Why do we call them leaders again???). At the same time, a follower is only remotely bound by loyalty to the leader, and can always exercise that very judgment that created the leader in the first place. Granted, there are people who would follow someone else’s ideas or orders blindly, but is it really leadership? And if it is, does not such a leader depend on a stock of docile individuals incapable of critical thinking? Would you rather be a lion among sheep or a sheep among lions (no eating one another is a factor in this context)?
An effective leader is the one who motivates you to be active yourself. So, he or she just works for me? Do we think of teachers and educators as leaders? So many questions!
What are your thoughts?