Here are a few things we don’t ask about leadership. In rambling fashion.
1) The camera pans on to followers. The leaders words boom out across the stadium. The words light a fire in hearts. Followers are on their feet, clapping and cheering. They scream out their lungs & proclaim their support for the leader and the cause. The scene repeats itself.
Everyone is talking about the leader. Nobody asks this about the followers. What life conditions made them turn into followers? On what grounds do they support the leader? If there are grievances that make them rally around the leader, would the leader want to solve those grievances? In the event of success, why is so little known about the numerous actions of followers and so much known about the masterly moves of the leader?
2) The political leaders get on-board the plane. They are going for a leadership development program at a world-famous university. People read the news and watch the news reel, nodding approvingly of the move. Great to have politicians being taught how to lead by people who are experts.
No matter how great the leadership, the limits on what one can achieve are set by the highest law of the land, the constitution. Perhaps, the leadership challenge requires a constitutional change. But, that would mean encountering stiff resistance from all stakeholders who benefit from the present constitutional arrangements. It is easier to send the leaders abroad for learning stuff they will not be able to apply.
We don’t examine the highest prescribed document – be it the constitution, or any other work- and ask, “what are the constraints in place and how do they impact the very fulfilment of our purpose? What are the stretched out possibilities? Why should the constitution be immutable? Who has the final say? How does the present set-up structure the actions of our leaders? Who benefits and who stands to lose?
3) Go anywhere and people ask a) Are leaders born or are they made? b) How are managers different from leaders? c) What are the qualities of a leader?
Are leaders born or made. What we don’t ask – How does that matter? How are managers different from leaders. What we don’t ask – Why can’t people know it in the act of doing? What are the qualities of a leader. What we don’t ask – What if the answer is being invisible and not being talked about?