“No one can follow a path which they don't know where it is leading to”. These were the words of one presenter on some leadership training workshop several years ago. It got me thinking about what leadership is, what it entailed and how it came about. One clear thing that came out was that you do not become a leader because you talk too much or too little-leadership has no correlation with talking. Instead leadership is about how you act, how you react and how you rectify situations. For some, leadership is about influence and influence is not manipulating people, it is about influence. Therefore what is influence? Influence is when people follow your vision and decide to drop what they are doing and whoever they are following to come and be with you and run with what you put before them. It follows therefore that a leader should be assessed on the numbers of people following him/her, their conviction in the leader’s vision and what they do with it. If the leader cannot pass on their ideas to the followers and the followers are implementing the ideas of another leader then who is leading?
In the era of “Get what you can and Can what you get” what should be the role of the leaders? The leader’s ideas are the first basis of who will follow them. The massive corruption, nepotism, rural poverty, product fetishism, urban squalor and deindustrialisation, it is the leaders’ visions which shouts out: Every organised person should be here, or
Every greedy and confused person should be here
The size of the vision and how it is being delivered is the major drawcard or the major put-off that dictates whether or not a “leader” has followers, what they want in that leader and what they do under the leader’s blessings. For others, leadership is more about doing positive things that lead to changes in the followers’ lives or “Leadership by production”. In other words what the leader does and espouses is what makes people decide “I cannot waste my time following this clueless person” or “Wow!! Yes, I need to follow this person”. What therefore is wrong in our situation? Are were following the wrong ideas? Are we getting the right ideas from our leaders? Who are our leaders? These questions demand honesty with oneself. Dramaturgical performances and self-deception is what got us here in the first place. Hear O ye trees
No man will make a great leader all by himself. In Functionalist sociological theory I learnt that the human body cannot be full of hands everywhere without having other organs such as the eyes, legs etc. This hypothetical body full of arms would be magnificent at completing difficult tasks in no time but how could it do this without the eyes? It follows that each individual must honestly reflect on how they are deploying their body: what skills and specialization's they are developing to meet their needs and what are they emphasizing on. Simultaneously, what are the leaders doing to enable the followers to develop capacities to meet their challenges or the leaders are the biggest obstacle to the followers’ solutions and escape from mediocrity? Are the leaders putting the right people in the right places or they are trying to do all by their themselves? Leaders attract followers according to the condition of their heart. Hear O ye trees
Giving someone a chance does not mean they are better than you. It means as a leader, you are aware of who-among your followers-is able to do certain things better than others. Thus a “leader” is only a leader if their actions inspire others, if their vision is transferred into reality, if the leader grows in their own right and the leader focuses on appreciating more than cultivating cultures of deceit, denial of the truth and emphasis of “let us eat today, tomorrow will sort itself out”. Forward planning, generational planning and reflexive thought oriented towards addressing present day issues and improving the future are the key things that draw people to a leader. Hear O ye trees.