Follow da leader

Don’t know what’s up with me this week, on a roll with blog posts…

Leadership: something I’ve been thinking about for a while and (coincidentally, as tends to happen) have also come across in a couple of things I have read/seen recently (one being the Dreikurs parenting book I just finished, another being the great TED talk about feminism by Jason Katz. One to watch.)

I used to think that people were either leaders or followers. That some people were “born” to lead, others to follow, and that that was great because – who wants to live in a  world of either all leaders, or all followers, right?

Hello, old world view. Having one main leader and loads of followers did used to be the way it was, and the way it was convenient and desirable to be. Hence pharaohs, royalty, dictators.

Hence the old world view of parenting of father as the ‘head of the family’ that the others (mother as well as children) defer to.

Nower days we live in a democracy in a political sense (in theory, don’t get me started…) as well as at home. In a true democracy there cannot be just one ultimate leader.

As we all have increasing knowledge (aka power), the illusion of one ultimate all-knowing leader is going, going, gone. Why not admit this and work with it?

Truth is, in life we all have moments to be the leader or the follower, depending on the situation at hand. Leaders are not above followers, they work together. Leading is not the ‘best’ position, both positions coexist, would not exist without each other. They are of equal importance.

In a family either one of the parents may have to take the leading role in different periods or activities. Siblings will also have to share the role of leader as children and as adults for healthy, happy relationships to develop between them.

Kids leave the family ambience and are called to make important decisions…what will they do if they believe they are not a “born leader” and they need to make an important decision? Similarly, if they believe they are the “leader” (and that the leader is special) what will they do with that twisted sense of power?

If we know we can, and need to be, both, we can have balance with each position. Give and take. Lead and follow. Dialogue, debate, discussion, flexibility. Capacities needed for the new world.

So, just as it’s no good to dominate and lord over the family, it’s also no good to hold your hands up and say “I’m just not a born leader”. Great leaders are not just born, leadership skills can be learned and practiced, and are of paramount importance in steering the family, as is knowing when to follow. There can be no family balance if one person assumes either role all the time.

We all need to know how to lead, as well as be lead.




Follow da leader

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