I became suddenly very curious about leadership when I wrote about it somewhere and my thoughts on the topic were ignored. Maybe I was posing questions about the need for leadership in an area where it can not be done, Ever since then, I have had quiet conversations with various CEO's I know who have noticed what I am seeing - it is very rare to find a great leader anymore.
So part of my curiosity is about leadership itself - like what the hell is it?
I know what I find off-putting from people who refer to themselves as leaders when I know for a fact they are liars, cheats, dysfunctional, and hiding secrets that would, if made public, dump them from their throne. They rule by fear. There is a price to pay for standing up to them.
Being in the SEO and UX industries for going on 20 years now, I now have the advantage of seeing the rise and fall of companies and people. I can think of many people who once stood out from the crowd and are today either gone or reduced to a quiet life doing something different. Once admired and sought after, their light is out. Some were CEO's of famous companies that no longer exist. Does this mean that leaders are masters are deception?
Looking outside my working world, I find leaders who have stood the test of time, like Mahatma Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Ben Franklin, our American Founding Fathers, and Native American Chiefs like Black Elk and Crazy Horse.
It's sad that women don't come up as quickly. And yet with the Cherokee, women were the leaders and decision makers for the tribes and it was not the last name of men that were taken upon marriage, but the names of the women. Hillary Clinton has a huge hurdle to jump to be elected President because she is a woman, despite the fact that other countries embrace women leaders. What are we afraid of, I wonder?
Are The Qualities Different for Religion/Politics/Companies/Organizations/Families?
Some leadership roles are achieved by vote and the criteria varies. For example, electing the next Catholic Pope is not the same as electing the President or Prime Minister of a country and these are different than choosing company CEO's (who may get the job because they started the company), or community leaders, who get things done at a local level.
There are leaders who are cruel. They kill their own people. There are leaders who fire employees and replace them with cheaper replacements. In other words, leaders get to keep their roles even when their actions are unethical, cruel and inhumane.
How would you define a leader? What specific leadership qualities do you admire? Are there less great examples of true leaders in today's world, or more?
At PubCon next week, SEMPO has put together a last minute meeting of the minds to discuss managing the ethics of the SEO industry and attempting to get standards in place. It got off to a bad start because it was just announced, rather than being planned so that interested people could plan their travel and schedules to include it. It's also a topic nobody likes and which has debated for years and years. Jill Whalen used to champion the idea and was blasted for it every time she brought it up.
It seems as though some people consider themselves to be a leader and yet I see no signs of leadership from them. For starters, a leader does not hurt people for their own gain. To me, a true leader has a plan and considers every angle, seeks council and uses it, and makes choices that benefit the whole rather than one or two. There is no place for ego, vanity and greed. A leader motivates, inspires and encourages knowledge and the sharing of this knowledge. A leader is never drunk, high, unbalanced, threatening, controlling, one sided and selfish. To me, a leader builds, rather than breaks apart.
Am I crazy or does it seem like there are few actual leaders in today's world?