What is leadership?
Is it something we are?
Is leadership something we do?
Are leaders born or are they made?
Is leadership something we can or even should aspire to?
Is leadership a privileged existence or a life of servitude? In other words, is a leader a first amongst servants (a prime minister) or an authority figure who rules as a Chief Executive Officer (a President)?
Let’s face it, leadership is a much sought after currency. It speaks of power, control, status, achievement, dominance, wealth, superiority, prestige, knowledge, importance, popularity, money, success, and many, many other things. It is also apparently more seductive and desirous than anything Hollywood could ever conjure up.
Our present social political context with democracy as the apparent governmental system of choice places the office of leadership in yet another way. This style of governance revolves around a leader campaigning for votes and convincing the often uneducated and misinformed masses of the candidates personal attractiveness, charm, superiority and competency to represent them as their democratically elected leader.
Leadership is indeed a complicated issue of which many greater minds than ours have wrestled over and still not ever fully agreed on.
I am not here trying to make a definitive statement on what leadership is or even should be. Instead, because leaders these days tend to take themselves very seriously what I’d like to do is to pose a parody on leadership that in a somewhat humorous way might just perhaps serve us as we navigate for ourselves a path towards our own individual understanding on the matter.
Sometimes it is good to look at an issue from a different point of view to see it a little clearer… . . . (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it… )
Either way, whatever our personal conclusions might or might not be we do still need to continue to walk through what I would like to suggest is a rather sad, stark, headless wilderness in global leadership history.
(… . . . and may the force be with us and not against)
So, at last, here’s my parody; – I propose that leadership today could be seen much the same as a dog chasing its own tail.
For the dog it is a very serious quest which is passionately attacked with what can only be seen as an obsessive preoccupation. For most onlookers it strikes a humorous chord much like a side-show in a traveling circus would and beckons us closer to watch intently from a short, yet safe distance as we wait for the inevitable outcome. … and we are seldom disappointed.
What we are witness to is essentially a mindless task of vain, futile, deception that if successful is extremely satisfying (only for the dog, mind you) , but then only satisfying for a mere split second until the pain of the initial bite is registered. The self inflicted wound is endured of course, but only because the perceived humiliation of letting go is deemed far more embarrassing and painful to the ego of the dog than enduring the actual pain of the incisory act.
It takes a bit of time, but soon the creeping revelation starts to set in that the apparent success of the venture serves only to place the dog in a locked-in position dangerously close to its own backside (and all the accompanying aromatic benefits associated with this position).
It is only then that in extremely rare cases the hapless canine beast is awakened to the fact that it has now committed itself (if it ever really ever desired to go anywhere strategically significant in the first place) to an entrenched path of running around in a singular, personally exhausting, never ending, circle of which the only way out is to let go and to never attempt the mindless, trick again.
In the end (pun intended) leadership may be a dogs life, but being a non participating observer is perhaps equal to the folly (punt indented).
If I may risk a brief summation, may I suggest that perhaps we consider exchanging the aspirations we may seem to have in our minds towards leadership in general as we see it demonstrated in our present time for something more life affirming, dignifying, effective, meaningful and productive such as the simple, passionate pursuit of personal honesty and integrity.
And if others follow our example, well…. maybe then we might just possibly be moving towards a better definition of leadership…. only, let’s not formalise it or take it too seriously, for heaven’s sake!
However, if no immediate understanding or workable option comes to mind it might be advisable to strongly consider assuming the nuclear holocaust position which is:
1. do not panic!
2. find a dry, safe, secure spot
3. sit quietly on the floor with arms folded in a protective self-embrace.
4. place head firmly between your knees
5. … and kiss your future goodbye!!