History always repeats itself. Sadly we often do not learn from it. Not because we arrogantly ignore it, but history has an advantage of painting the big picture after the fact, which is often not visible in the given present time. History is full of leaders who indeed moved the world forward and of those who brought the world to its knee. Countless leaders once revered were later abandoned or worse slain by their followers.
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I will save you from the history lessons and will dive into the topic closer to home. Workplace.
The most common conversation starter at any social settings when meeting someone is around what we do for a living. It’s usually I am so and so of so and so company. Strangely, our profession defines how we are perceived even in private gathering. Our education, title, designation, credential supersedes everything else we are. We subconsciously evaluate and place others based on their corporate or professional standing.
The bigger the title, the higher the stature. Millions of years of evolution haven’t changed much for humans when it comes to following people for what they demonstrate. Personal strength, wealth or lineage defined who we were in the past. They are not so different today, although physical force may be replaced with power, the behaviour to hold someone high based on their position is still within us. Like animals we follow or gather around the strongest, most powerful or those that have a higher social standing. Our eyes are blind to the stature that unknowingly or willingly make us slave to the position. Unlike in the past when job safety fear led to these practices, the dread of punishment in today’s levels of job mobility may not be the case.
If you happen to be at the coveted position and are getting all the attention then enjoy them as long as it lasts, but don’t get too comfortable. Sorry to disappoint you and don’t take it personally, it is actually not you the person but the position you hold that probably defines you. And if that person gets displaced, the people following this person switches sides in no time. They won’t laugh at your jokes no matter how silly they may be. They won’t consider your opinion as gospel anymore. They now have turned their devotion to someone else who currently holds the key to their salvation. Our allegiance pitifully is with the position and not the person. We have unfortunately become a society where individual personality or character is not relevant anymore.
Imagine the leaders you follow and strip them of their titles, remove all designations, clear all credential, wipe all seniority and every letter that precedes or follows their name. They now are as human as one can be. Look closely now and see what you find. Is there anything still left in that person? Do you still find them in awe? Do they still appear larger than life? Do you still laugh at their jokes? Do you still see their wish as your command? Consider yourself lucky if any of your answers is yes. Latch on to them as they are the real deal. Make them your mentor as you have much to learn from them. And follow them for they will bring out the best in you.
But if your answer is no, then respectfully reevaluate your devotion toward those leaders for theirs and your sake. All that glitters is indeed not gold, so this self-awareness will help you not make any irrational choice between what you should do versus what you are compelled to do blindly. It should allow you to pause and make thoughtful decisions.
If you are in the early stages of becoming a leader, then you may use this guide to sculpt your leadership traits to inspire and command true loyalty and respect from your team. If your team loves you for what you are minus the frills around you, then you have succeeded in your endeavour to become a true leader.
Success to you!