How NOT To Be A Leader
Don't do this.
In my previous article How To Become A Leader, I stated that “The leadership of any movement defaults to those who take the most sane cogent risk.”
If we reverse each of these three words, “sane,” “cogent,” and “risk,” we could see the opposite: how NOT to become a leader. While the first article provided a checklist for leadership, this will provide a checklist for where activists dash their leadership potential. Avoid every behavior described in this article.
The opposite of “sane cogent risk” would be “insane incoherent cowardice.”
Here is how NOT to be a leader:
If you don’t want to be a leader, set insane goals. Declare that your Facebook post to a dozen friends will bring down multi-million dollar organizations. Become depressed when thousand-year-old injustices don’t end after a week’s work. Behave erratically. Ask for millions of dollars. Declare total victory after one event. Have a complete break from reality. Make sure your arguments and actions make no sense.
It’s harder for others to follow you if they have no idea where you’re going. Never explain the reason for your actions. Make your organization inscrutable to anyone trying to understand your decisions. When rumors abound, offer no explanation or clarity. Have no strategy. Don’t explain your choices. Make contradictory statements. Take actions that counteract each other. Make no sense.
You can’t lead anyone if you’re never going anywhere. Never take risks. When controversy arises, always take the easiest solution, even if that harms you, your cause, or other activists. When opposition attacks you, bend over backward to please them. Apologize even when you did nothing wrong. Never wager anything. Always play it safe. And remember, the safest move is always to do nothing.
Okay, this is a pretty bad list. It’s obvious parody and exaggeration. Yet, there is a modicum of this behavior in people and organizations that fail to lead. They might not be this bad, but there is some insanity in their goals, incoherence in their actions, or cowardice in their choices.
If you’re seeking leadership, but not succeeding, try looking through the lens of this anti-checklist and see where greater clarity and courage might be needed.