Are You a Leader?
Not If I can Help It
In my last annual review, it was pointed out I lack ‘leadership skills’. I couldn’t agree more. I’m a hardcore FOLLOWER and always will be. If things go wrong, I’m one of those people that say ‘Just following orders …’ and point a finger to the ‘order giver’, i.e. my boss.
It’s suggested I think about applying for a ‘Leadership Role’. Not mentioning that ‘Never Volunteer’ is also part of my work ethic, I reluctantly agree to do some research.
First things first – if you’re going to be a leader, you’d better define its origins. Leader comes from the Old English ‘leden’, meaning ‘to direct or show the way’, so make sure you’re not mistaken for an EXIT sign.
‘Leader’ is also the name of a newspaper in Wales, an IT company, a ballet school and lord have mercy a funeral service on Facebook. When people are looking for a leader, it’s not someone guiding them towards life’s last station. Unless you want to arrange your own funeral, which wouldn’t make you a leader, but a ‘hero’ in the eyes of your surviving family members.
Contrary to popular belief a leader is NOT ‘Someone who has the potential to blow up the world in a mushroom cloud’. That’s just a ‘Megalomaniac, narcissist with bad hair that happens to be the leader of the Free World (at least until January 2021)’. The fact that another ‘Megalomaniac narcissist with a bad haircut leads the Not-So-Free-World (North Korea)’ is worrying but would solve all my debt and mortgage problems.
A leader by definition is simply ‘A person who leads or commands a group, organization or country’.
Humm… I can’t help but think of Ikea’s founder, globally convincing us that building our own furniture is acceptable … even fun! Never mind the left-over parts. Or Mark Zuckerman luring me into giving all my personal details just to be ‘liked’. Finally (and most frightening), ‘Los del Rio’ leading millions of people around the world into dancing LA MACARENA.
Research continues with something called the Natural leader, not to be confused with naturist leader … usually an old crumbly that shrivels up in the cold. A Natural leader is someone born into the role. It’s that attention seeking newborn lying among 40 sleeping babies who suddenly starts crying thus making all others follow. If your baby is the first to howl – rest assured you have given birth to a leader. There is a slight chance he could also be a psychopath who will not rest until he owns the world (think Putin) and avoid taxation (think Amazon’s Jeff Bezos).
Don’t worry if you’re one of the wailing followers (like me) because it’s possible to ‘Learn to Lead’. Yup. All you have to do is buy a book! From ‘THE ONE MINUTE MANAGER (deceitful as it takes more than one minute to read) to bestsellers, ‘What they DON’T teach you at Harvard Business School’ and ‘What they DO teach you at Harvard Business School’, making it possible to get your degree for a mere £2.84 + £6.49 respectively.
Among the many types of leaders, there is the Introverted leader. This is bound to be a huge success as he (or she) is too self-conscious to give out orders.
Another crowd favorite is the leader that does MBWA (Management by Walking Around). Particularly if said individual walks out of the office murmuring ‘I can’t take it I can’t take it I can’t take it …’ as finance directors tend to do on a regular basis.
What everyone seems to agree on is that a leader has to LEAVE A LEGACY – something they will always be remembered for:
George H.W. Bush: ‘Read my lips: no new taxes’ (he lied).
Bill Clinton: ‘I did not have sex with that woman’ (he lied).
Donald Trump: it’s all lies?
Perhaps after this exhausting and possibly useless analysis, you will become, like me, more determined than ever to stay true to my ‘follow ship’ principles.
Sonia Aste is a writer and a proud FOLLOWER.
This blog was published by Riverside Toastmasters International Newsletter.