8 Reasons Why Most Leaders Are Not Really Leaders, But Frogs
I know, a pretty weird headline. Got your attention though, didn’t I? Ha!
Have you ever thought about how many truly weird comparisons exist out there? No? That’s okay, because I really don’t care if you have. I haven’t either.
What I have done though is think about leadership A LOT. What it means to different people, what it entails, how it’s perceived by followers, what are a true leader’s most important qualities. What I found out by talking to MANY people about it, is that 1) you can find leaders anywhere and 2) there aren’t 2 people in the world who have the exact same understanding of what a leader is (yes, I talked to every single person in the world).
So how does a person know if he’s a leader or not then?
Well, considering the amount of complete and utter douchebags in the world who don’t even believe people like Mandela or Jobs were leaders, one can never be sure, right? WRONG! Because true leaders don’t even think about that. They don’t spend their minutes or hours wondering if people perceive them as actual leaders. So they don’t need to be sure. They mostly spend their time going about their full-time jobs or taking care of their kids or waiting for the grades from their exams to come out. Because to be a leader doesn’t mean you have to start your own company or become the 457th president of the Republic of Who Cares. And you certainly don’t need to go volunteering in the poorest country in Africa (oh, the cliche) and post countless pictures of yourself with starving little kids. (Really, Angelina?) In other words, you don’t need to lead a whole village or spend your days crafting a “leader-like” image of yourself on social media.
Don’t get me wrong – I don’t mean none of the leaders in this world realize they are ones. It’s just really rare that I see someone I can really admire for what he’s done as a leader without adding air quotes half-way through the sentence.
I bet you’re already wondering if I’m ever going to write anything to justify that headline. Okay, okay, there it goes:
1) Think Eminem. Ever thought of him as a leader? Well, that’s your mistake! Because when he’s not rapping curse words or love-hate poems about his ex wife, he actually manages to do things not many people realize he does. Like convincing 75 000 people to vote. Having this type of influence over people without them expecting anything in return is the basis of a true leadership. Not the only one, of course.
2) “I don’t give a fuck”. This phrase has so many meanings, it’s crazy. If you don’t believe me, read this. Quite a fast and awesome read, I might say. But taking the indifference part of the phrase, do you really think leaders can afford to just not care? Indifference is not something any leader has become known about or famous for. They have to care about what they do, when they do it, how it affects those around them. And by that I definitely don’t mean:
3) Following the rules like a little bitch. Excuse (or not) my language, but “I have obeyed every single rule during my entire life” – said no leader ever. Leaders must break rules, not follow them. And I don’t mean break laws and go around breaking into people’s homes and taking a shower in their bathtubs. I simply mean that leaders often tend to find unconventional ways to solve problems and help people, and by finding those ways, they often break rules that societies never thought of breaking. How do you think the greatest inventions of all time were invented? How do you think Hawking came up with Hawking Radiation? Okay, maybe he didn’t exactly break a rule in this case, but he did intend to break the laws of science.
4) Beware, as this is my favorite one. POSITIONS. Oh my, how many people care about positions. Let me give you a personal example – in my favorite thing in the world called AIESEC, we have many positions. Team leader positions, member positions, vice presidents, presidents, the whole hierarchy thing. In this organization though, anyone can be a leader, simply because you choose to dedicate your time to help people and lead change, which not enough of us do nowadays. And yet, there are always those people who just don’t do those things because they are leaders. They do them for purely selfish reasons and in the end they love claiming how good they are and how they love being leaders. Yes, I’ve seen some of those in my time here. Usually they don’t last very long, as a place like AIESEC can’t function with people like that. I swear, I have heard a girl say how good of a leader she is because she managed to organize one event with a lot of people (let’s call them her followers, she’s a leader, right?) helping her while her favorite thing was going around complaining to everyone how tired and overworked she is. All. The. Time. Then there’s the guy that is supposed to inspire people, but the only thing he does is overburden them with his sarcasm. Those who know me know I’m more than okay with sarcasm, so imagine how often I get over-sarcasmed. (yes, if twerk can be a word, then this can be a word!).
5) Taking credit. It’s only natural for people to want to take credit when they do something extraordinary or even just nice. It shouldn’t be natural when you’re leading a team though. You and your team worked hard to deliver the results that brought your company out of bankruptcy? You simply canNOT say “I”. YOU didn’t do anything. You and your team did. Open your dictionary and check out this nifty little thing called “we”. It’s usually useful. You bitch. Just kidding. Maybe you’re a guy.
6) “I’m sorry you disagree with me, but that’s just how it is”. Oops, you just turned from a leader into a frog. And dude, no matter how many kisses that princess gives you, you ain’t becoming anything else. Why a frog? Because frogs don’t give a fuck. Leaders let others challenge the way they think. They accept criticism even if it’s not constructive and question their own methods and decisions many, many times before they become successful. If you’re leading people, their opinions should matter, right? Sometimes even more than your own.
7) The favorite thing of wanna-be leaders are leadership quotes distributed evenly among their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and sometimes even Pinterest. And I’m not saying it’s bad to post leadership quotes, I do it all the time. All I’m saying is – don’t just POST those damn things, practice them! Without having a position, without being Angelina, without waiting for someone to assign you a task. Help someone do something when you see they need help, take the initiative and become more creative at work, show the people around you you’re someone they can count on by proving to yourself you’re someone who people should listen to.
8) I *really* hate it when I see people assigned the “team leader” position somewhere treat their teammates as their followers. Yes, you do need to exert authority, but not to the point that people need to ask for your permission to say something. Jeez, get over yourself! And don’t even get me started on a girl I know that should really start making a living out of interrupting people, because she doesn’t respect anyone’s opinion but her own. Again: get over yourself!
There! That’s it. My personal 8 reasons. So, what do you think? I don’t give a fuck. Kidding! Feel free to let me know though 🙂 I respect other people’s opinions (hint, hint). Anyway, what do YOU think about true leadership? I’m thinking about writing a post with my thoughts on whether people are born with it and it just comes naturally at a certain point, or if it can get acquired along the way.