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You’re angry at leadership. It’s killing your future.

You’re angry at leadership. It’s killing your future.

One of the most prevalent toxic human behaviors I see in private businesses today is the way people so easily discard the value of leadership in their lives.

A lot of people just don’t accept leadership in their lives. They don’t want “someone telling them what to do” and they don’t want any accountability for their actions.

And the people they don’t want telling them what to do include owners, managers, team leaders, mentors, husbands, and parents. 

Read that list carefully and note which one might be your challenge.

In effect, these people become a god unto themselves. They decide what they need to do, decide how fast to grow and how. If at all. They decide how much stress they want and they decide how life should treat them.

But it’s all a deception.

I have seen it so many times and almost every time I see this behavior, the reason that these people shun leadership is because they have been disappointed by parents, a teacher, a mentor, a church leader, a man, a husband or a business leader. And because they were disappointed they consciously decide that no human being will ever have any level of influence over their lives again. 

In an effort to protect themselves against the flaws that we all carry (yes leaders have them as well), they set up impenetrable walls that limit access to their minds and lives in general.

At face value, it seems like a great strategy. If I don’t allow anyone to have tough conversations with me, I never get hurt. If I am not accountable to anyone, I never make mistakes and if I don’t make mistakes I always feel good. Not getting hurt and not making mistakes becomes my focus. I create a pseudo happiness.

But they don’t realise the opportunity cost of this decision. What these people never think about is what they have given up in return for feeling good and never getting hurt.

Leadership is the bedrock of our modern society and the methodology is as old as the Bible (still the best selling book in the world). Everything in life happens through the vision of a single leader and the shared responsibility of people who choose to follow a particular leader.

Nothing of significance has ever been built by one person. It’s always a collective effort and always connected to a visionary leader. There is no evidence in any business arena that anything significant has been built in any past decade, without a hierarchical structure of leaders and followers.

And the reason is that not all people have the leadership gift. They have other gifts, but not necessarily the leadership one. Leadership is a combination of nature and nurture and some people are just not meant to be leaders.

This does not mean they can’t achieve anything, but rather that they can never become all they need to be without leadership. The reverse is also true and that is that leaders can’t lead without followers. It’s a mutually beneficial agreement.

But the mutually beneficial arrangement is quickly distorted into a partnership where we are suddenly equal in our authority in our businesses. And here is where the confusion is. We are equal as human beings in the hierarchy, but we are not equal in authority.

This means we respect each other as human beings and acknowledge each other’s faults, but we do not bleed this concept into meaning we’re equal in the decisions that need to be made for the greater good of the community.

For the greater good to be established we need someone who can make a call, right or wrong with the facts presented to that person. This is leadership. Leaders are able to make a call with scarce information and rely on their natural ability to guide them through the decision.

Some decisions are right and others are wrong (this is by nature who we are), but progression is caused by a decision made. This is also how we learn. We make decisions and we learn from our decisions.

Success for the followers also lies in this hierarchical authoritative structure.

To solidify that thought here are my 5 reasons why followers need leadership to become all they need to be:

  1. Being under leadership teaches you values. Some people have a subset of the values required for success and only by learning from someone who has achieved a measure of success, can you adopt a more suitable value system.
  2. Leaders give direction for the greater good of all. With direction, your life is moving forward whether you have the motivation or courage or not. It’s like getting on a moving bus. You get to move faster than walking by yourself. But you need a bus.
  3. Leaders help make the daily grind meaningful by connecting your work to a vision. Doing work you love is not enough. Doing work that has meaning to someone else, is what keeps us sane. You can build great products, but if no one wants to use them, they’re not great. You need a team to build great products. If you have a team, someone needs to lead.
  4. Leadership identifies your knowledge gaps and develops you to become the best you can be. My gym instructor recently told me I should remember that I would never exercise at the level of intensity I do with him, on my own. The brain just would not allow it. Our brains naturally seek comfort and leaders are able to force us out of that comfort. Growth only happens outside of comfort.
  5. Leaders inspire you to be more productive citizens, to think less of yourself and more of the good of other people. Because someone expects stuff from you, you learn to be much more focused on the needs of others and this counters the selfishness created by an independent spirit.

We know that not all people are leaders, and therefore some are followers. This is not a bad thing. It is a necessary construct of society. If leaders and followers work together, magic happens.

If you’re a follower you need to make sure you understand the value of leadership. You’re not following because you like the person (although that is a bonus). You’re following that person because your life will be accelerated by him/her as a result of their position, not their character or personality.

And if we know all leaders will make mistakes, do we still follow? Yes, you do. Unless they expect you to do something morally reprehensible, you follow. And if they’re wrong, you will still be better off for applying the principle of leadership. As leaders, they will have to fix the problem and the group would have learned something from it.

The faster we learn the faster we all become successful. At a quick rate of decision making, we’re all better off, on average.

Honoring the leaders in your life is crucial to your success as a follower. Whether it’s mother, father, husband, boss, mentor, teacher or pastor. They were put there for a reason and it was meant for good.

It’s painful, but it’s good.

P.S. All good leaders, have leaders…

Kevin Howell

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