Since the dawn of time, there have been people sitting around fires, watching the spectacle in amazement, and those who claimed they could actually see something in the flames.
Whether those statements were true or not is beside the point. What set these individuals apart from the rest of the pack was a conviction, an ability to influence others, and lead them through the darkness.
As long as everyone feels safe, happy and comforted, does it matter if the monsters in the shadows are real or the product of our imagination? Should we even bust our heads wondering about leadership and followership?
The Great Chiefs
Well, the importance of leaders should never be downplayed. Throughout history, they have proven their worth: they were ahead of their time and rode on the crest of the wave, inspiring others to take action.
They illuminate the path ahead when nobody seems to be aware that one even exists. Many people would agree that there cannot be too many chiefs and not enough Indians.
It can also be argued that this is not the case, because people are by nature more inclined to follow an accepted way of thinking and doing things than to deviate from them.
Followers are slaves to the status quo, and do not excel at calling the shots in a group of people. They just do their jobs, without going above and beyond because they are satisfied with the bare minimum.
On the contrary, leaders use this as a mere foundation to build greatness upon— missing the opportunity to add value and climb the ladder is not an option for them.
Authority figures know that one must never rest on their laurels because success is not determined by one swift assault, but perseverance in a never-ending war. Leadership is not bestowed upon us— it is the constant art of persuasion.
The Inner Workings of Power
Furthermore, this attribute is not rooted in positional power.
Title, authority, seniority, these things are not worth a dime for a person who does not know how to “wear” them. Take the example of a manager, who locks himself in his office, fails to establish meaningful connections with his employees and likes putting the squeeze on them.
This is to say leadership must be exercised and put to the test over and over again. And without the empowering presence team spirit, even the best of the best cannot run the show alone. Just because one person takes credit and wins acclaim does not mean he or she has worked alone.
The criteria for evaluating leadership capability often involve optimism, passion, confidence, accountability, adaptability to change, decisiveness, etc. A leader knows how to rally the troops and lead by example, not a heavy hand and by bulldozing others into doing.
True paragons possess such social influence that they inbreathe others to be at their best. When they speak, that is music to the followers’ ears, one that makes them dance to the leader’s tunes. This is something that cannot be faked, although it is possible to grasp the underlying logic behind this kind of influence.
Bear in mind that sometimes people are not guided by particular individuals, but things like trends. Popular culture and phenomena are teeming with cases of people flocking to emerging trends.
The Pokemon Go madness, for example, has appeared out of the blue and caused a true global hysteria. People are literally walking around like zombies, oblivious to immediate dangers that lurk around them. They are obviously followers of something big, but they are not all the same. Some of them neglect their safety, get injured, mugged, involved in an incident, etc.
If you cannot help but to jump on the bandwagon, at least take precautions. Keep your eyes open for thieves and hoodlums praying on unassuming players, and when dwelling in scarcely populated or dark areas make sure you bring the appropriate equipment such as a battery lamp, some reflective clothing tape, and groceries.
Even as a follower, there are things you can do to avoid peril. Likewise, it is never OK to be at someone’s beck and call. Think with your own head and learn to tell true leaders from the fake, and chiefs from followers. This helps you navigate the social landscape of today and steer clear of pitfalls, unlike wasting time figuring out in which category you fall into.
We Could be Heroes
Faced with the right cause, does it matter who stands in the spotlight, and who is present in the crowd? Well, history is full of both examples of the blind leading the blind and difficult situations in which genuine leaders were born. Life makes us followers and leaders, not a genetic lottery or medals.
Proper leaders always carry the weight, instead of putting it on other people’s shoulders. Those who cling to power are short-lived, due to their failure to look beyond selfish self-interest. In a sense, anyone can do this: yes, we can all be heroes, at least for just one day.