India-First-Global-Insights-Analysis -Sharing-PlatformIndia-First-Global-Insights-Analysis -Sharing-Platform

The Idea of Leadership – Boringly Stereotyped?

, November 16, 2015, 0 Comments

leadership-boring-stereotyped-marketexpress-inThe more you popularize something the more stereotypical it becomes. Leadership is a classic example!

You may still end up finding people who don’t believe in religion or God, however, it is a highly unlikely that you will ever bump into someone who disbelieves in the idea of leadership! The idea of leadership is relevant not just to humans but also to the stuffs that humans use, experience, or interact with. Soccer is the world’s leading sport. The Apple iPhone is the world’s leading smartphone. Be it; teams, politics, movies, sports or products we humans are obsessed with the idea of finding a leader in everything, everyone, or everywhere!

Interestingly, we learnt about leadership in schools, colleges and Universities without questioning the importance or need of leadership. No one can imagine the world without leaders. Perhaps, we may descend into lasting chaos and disorder if the idea of leadership dies down. On the contrary, could it be that the world may become a lot better place without leaders? May be.

Beyond the Smoke and the Noise

We like orderliness. We like certainty. We like clarity. Perhaps needs like these make us approach the idea of leadership as an indisputably important reality in our everyday life. We are taught that leaders come with a certain aura, traits, vision, that big-picture thinking stuff et al. Everyone of us has read so much about leadership that we all are competent enough to relate some or other leadership theory to our persona and disposition. After all, not being a leader is like not being a human per se.

Could it be that despite of having a unanimously global appeal the leadership idea is like that thick smoke and loud noise? Is it time for us to get beyond it? The era when the idea of leadership gained momentum was a different one. It was hard for people to connect with each other for sharing ideas, seeking inspiration, and making sense of the on-the-ground issues. The rise of social media platforms and the Internet has improved access to information and simplified people-to-people connect quite remarkably.

Information and connectivity had transformed not just the economies around the world, but attitudes and perceptions of people too. Now it is really not important to fall back on the shoulders of that person with gifted aura, charisma, or traits to make yourself heard or to seek inspiration or even justice.

A classic example was the 2013 “tamarrod movement” in Egypt. The tamarrod (rebellion) movement was a social media movement that ousted the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood’s President Mohammed Morsi by organizing an online petition.

Astonishingly, this movement wasn’t spearheaded by a leader of opposition, but rather a bunch of youngsters in their 20s! Interestingly, though a leaderless movement the tamarrod represented hundreds of thousands of Egyptian voices and it was immensely successful in achieving its outcome.

Redefining Leadership

Would you ever allow someone to put ideas into your mind or words into your mouth? Isn’t that, what most leaders do? Talk about ideas and shower words of wisdom, inspiration, and glory. The information economy with the rise of the Internet has given people that confidence and empowerment to handle matters uniquely. Perhaps, the Internet has reduced the edge the so called gifted and charismatic leaders had over others by making it convenient for people to seek solutions on their issues rather than relying on that one person’s intellect and guidance. Be it seeking solutions online or galvanizing a movement the Internet puts a deep scar in the hearts of insecure leaders. Empowerment in today’s world is all about access to information. Do we really need to wait until some leader comes and asks us what our needs or concerns are? There is simply no excuse today to not to feel empowered and to rely on a leader to get your issues sorted.

Importantly, the business world has already seen a major phase of creative disruption where in the companies with the old-style, top-down leadership model was decimated by a rather more freewheeling and empowered Internet companies with very little gap between the leaders and followers. Why is that change isn’t materializing in the social space? Shouldn’t a leader’s role be more facilitative and consultative in light of the Internet revolution? Don’t you feel it’s the team or the people that makes a leader?

While I am very critical about the idea of leadership I don’t mean we must uproot the very idea of leadership. We still need someone to lead our sporting teams and head our nation. However, with the rapid changes in the social dynamics of the societies world over the excessive reverence the leaders enjoy should be reduced. While some may always have better capabilities and ideas than us, but the point is to present yourself strongly. Surrendering yourself before someone is the thinking of the Jurassic era.

This should end. Our excessive reverence for leaders some day would transpire them all into irremovable despots. It will surely take a while for us to stop glorifying our leaders, nevertheless, we could give that idea a chance for sure. We may not really uproot the very idea of leadership, but we could always make an attempt to redefine its role. Can’t we?