Inverting the Leadership Paradigm

December 15, 2015

Leadership #2

Leadership is always seen to be about power. Leaders are meant to be powerful. Why would they be leaders otherwise? Perhaps it is driven by the alpha male mindset of the jungle. The mightiest and the strongest male in the pack gets all the mates, eats the best food. It seems the same mindset has trickled down to us from the animal world. But is it always true? What if the roles were reversed? What if leaders are actually meant to serve? They are in positions of power because they have the greatest responsibility to their constituents not because they are to gain the most. How would we see leadership if it were a task that demanded the greatest level of compassion and empathy. The ability to truly see things from a perspective of the lowest common denominator and not live in an ivory tower of ignorance. Is it not true to see leaders today enjoying the epitome of life while their responsibilities are really to the people they are supposed to lead. How can a ruler have someone sleep hungry and be able to feast in the most grandiose manner day in and day out? How can they sleep in ultimate comfort and have their people sleep on the streets? If one were to see the role of leadership in such a way one would be very weary of taking on such a role. Is not too much responsibility? Can we as leaders really handle such a responsibility? Would we really want to be held accountable for any misgivings and suffering on our watch? Where does such an idea spring from? Is it idealistic? Dreamed up figment of someone’s (or my own) imagination? Not quite so. The earliest example of such leaders are the Caliphs of Islam.

One fine example comes from the life of Caliph Omar. How he would roam the streets in disguise to see if there was anyone hungry or needy. To see if there was something he could do to ensure everyone was taken care of. He made sure he was not too comfortable while his own people suffered. This kind of leadership is a paradigm shift for our leaders today. Of course his sense of accountability was driven by faith. The belief that there is a higher being that had vested him with power and that he would be accountable to that authority at some point in time was what drove him. So is it the absence of faith in today’s extravagant leaders? Is it really the blind ignorance of accountability? “I will do what I can because I can get away with it” kind of mindset? Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. So is it that then? Every kind of abuse is ignorance of a higher power in my opinion. With a feeling of ultimate power one is led to believe they can do whatever they want. Is there no way to be truly humble and serve people without the presence or belief in a higher power? Of course the modern world has put its checks and balances, be it a leader of a country or an organization, but the larger paradigm is a sense of entitlement and privilege associated with leadership positions wherever it maybe. In some cases this privilege is abused to no end. But to find leaders who truly care, who sacrifice themselves for those they are responsible for despite them having all possible means to exploit and indulge, is very rare if not non-existent. This is the kind of leadership I am calling out for. This is what the world needs today to run our countries and our companies. Do you know of a leader like this today?

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