In some sort of way, we are all leaders, whether that means leading our choices, our life, our children or an organization. Having been involved with many organizations, I have noticed that most people fall among these three following categories: Leader-cheap, Leader-sheep and Leader-ship. You have probably never heard of these terms. Don’t worry I am a non-native English speaker who’s courting the language.
There is a story about a relatively great leader who had great influence in his town. One time, the king of the town was faced with a decision that was contrary to his beliefs and those of his people. He firmly opposed for a long time until the prince seduced him with two of the finest type of Cuban cigars. The following day, the man smoked like a dragon and forgot all about his people. This is what I called leader-cheap. It doesn’t take a lot to buy these leaders. Some flattery might also be fine, at least it boost their low self-esteem. They don’t have any conviction; they are simply using their followers to attain their means. These are the leaders who also know how to buy followers through flattery or shame. They might belittle you or congratulate you; it all depends on your weaknesses. Clever trick, right? As a lion screaming before death; inconsistency and ignorance lied behind their arrogance. Very good actors, they are…they can even cry to get what they want.
The other category is less dishonest, but quite dangerous. This is the one I called leader-sheep. These people function like sheep, head down into the next idea, the next project without any proper understanding. Compliance is their strategy to climb organizational hierarchy. They have the luckiest quality of always being on board. No kidding! Sometimes, they might even sign their death sentence without knowing. Maybe you have met this kind of people inside your organization, your family or you might be one. The question is it what the world is waiting for? Are they really helping with this kind of attitude? This kind of leaders is also called a people pleaser. They want to do everybody’s will. They function like a TV that a 3 year old baby just discovered the remote control for. Saints! Oh yeah, they think they are the saints. They know how to put on their agreement face while rage and bitterness are eating them inside.
Here comes the one, the style we should practice, leader-ship. Leading the ship in middle of chaos and storm. The people who practice this style are self-aware of their strengths and weaknesses. They don’t take any bullshit from anyone while respecting anyone’s decision and opinion. These are the ones who stand up when the leaders-cheap are corrupted and when the leaders-sheep are blindly on board. These are the people who are willing try something that might not work and practice vulnerability. They are the teachers who challenge thinking instead of injecting dogma. These are the people who think for themselves, they don’t fall in love with certainty, but embrace diversity. In this world where fame and quantity seem to win over quality and consistency, these leaders care about quality followers.
They are not entitled to popularity or esteem. Paradoxically, they are the ones who suffered the most, who failed the most, but the only ones who can create a lasting impact.
In which category do you fall? Are you failing forward to the third category? Do you know some leader-cheap and leader-sheep? More than ever the world needs you. It needs you to step out of boredom and perform with your God given talents.
Stop being afraid! We need you to lead.