Leadership? Three cheers for being a mensch!

Warren Kinston 13. February 2012 17:11

Leadership and Followers

Google «Leadership» and you get over 500 million hits.  Google «Followership», you get under 500 thousand.  That is a thousand times more articles on leading than on following.  What's more, many of those hits on following are actually about leadership.  On my Twitter feed, I am bombarded by links to advice on being a leader and I have yet to get a single link to help with being a follower.

What is going on here?  Is the ratio in real life a thousand leaders for every single follower?  Or is it the reverse?  All the effort going into being a wonderful leader is rather pointless if you don't have a few followers.  One thousandth of one follower doesn't do much for the ego.  Is leading worth the effort?

What do we make of all this?   Does it suggest an assumption that being a follower is a passive, automaton-like role?  If that is the case, no wonder we need not just ordinary leaders but super-leaders, trans-leaders, hero-leaders, multi-leaders, cosmic-leaders &c.  The lists of leadership qualities are extending inexorably: the most recent one just received via Twitter had over 20 items.  Perhaps it is because only extraordinary people like that will ever get zombies to do anything. 

But, hold on.  The new generation are not zombies.  Actually, the old generation were not zombies either.  Not only that, in any organization, every leader is a follower.  Even the CEO has to follow the lead of the Board: or ought to—I realize what an affront that must be to a red-blooded American CEO—sorry, apologies if that's you...sorry again.

Let's focus now: why is there this industry of people persuading everyone to stop being a manager and become a leader?  Why?  I remember when they used to tell people to stop being an administrator and become a manager.  So I hope it won't be too long before I will hear people telling everyone to stop being a leader and become a mensch.  After that, we'll have the singularity when the machines take over.  Then consultants and bloggers worldwide will be advising everyone to stop being a mensch and start becoming a machine.  It's already happening: augmented reality....neurological implants that arrange for soldiers to be like drones and shoot before they consciously notice that the target is probably an innocent civilian.

Hang on--I'm losing control of this blog.

Back to factoid opinions: this whole leadership craze is all wrong.  It's evidence of some deeper fault in the system.  Like obesity.  Or the war on drugs.  Reality doesn't have a fault.  We do.

Perhaps, as Fagin suggested, "reviewin' the situation" would be a good idea.  When it comes to leadership, "I think we'd better think it out again!"



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Warren Kinston is the creator of the THEE-Online website as an open forum for the further discovery and development of THEE. He writes this blog as an escape valve for the excitement and frustrations of the work. More info here.

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