Learn what defines true leadership.
Did you ever wonder about how our society nowadays views leadership and power? It’s almost impossible to separate the two. Leaders use power to rule and power is given to those who were perceived as leaders. And what makes of the rest of the population? They are categorized as the Followers.
It has been the norm for quite a number of generations that have already executed this kind of perception. We observe hierarchies in almost everything we do as a society. If a group of people decide to execute a plan or business, there’s always someone who rule over the rest.
Whether it’s a small group of workmates or as huge as a nation, there’s always a leader. Otherwise, people would be like ants disrupted on their scent trails—chaotic and without direction. Ever wonder where all these behaviors and point of views came from?
Leaders Eat Last initiated a study to further understand this kind of human behavior by zooming into the vital contributors that make our society as it is. Its study gives a better insight as to how things as complex as modern technological advances and as inevitable as our human biology develop cravings to be categorized as leaders or Followers.
Leaders Eat Last showcases the good, the bad, and the ugly of how leadership arose whether through necessity or conspiracy. Now, t million-dollar question is how to spot the right leader to follow?
These questions are helpful to identify if the authority you follow is worth the credence:
- When a scenario asks for it, how far would an employee follow the leader’s set protocol?
- How does the leader view his/her employees’ rights over the company resources provided?
- How to be the kind of leader the followers adore and respect at the same extent?
Our need for hierarchy and leadership is rooted in our biology.
Did you know that according to Biology, humans developed a need to lead and be led? It’s irrevocable and imminent. All thanks to our human biology.
It all started thousands of years ago when human biology evolved such need through our hormones. Emotions and behaviors are both influenced by hormones. Its rise and fall affect how we act and react to certain situations.
Ticking off a specific task on your to-do list, losing your desired extra pounds over the set timeframe, or finally finding the perfect shoes to go with your ensemble give us a rewarding feeling whenever executed. It’s all because of Dopamine—a hormone that makes us ecstatic over rewarding efforts.
That feeling of crushing over someone or the bond between friends or kin is manipulated by Oxytocin and Serotonin. The happiness over getting a tattoo, pushing our performance to the limit, or finishing a triathlon despite exhaustion or pain beyond words is caused by Endorphins.
And in light of the hierarchy we are already accustomed to, hormones also play a vital part. You see, one of the traits we often look for a leader is the strength in any or every aspect—physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.
The perfect examples are the village hunters. Strong men with certain cravings for Endorphins charge to the wild to combat with animals to feed their whole community. These men lead everyone in the community because they provide and are strong enough to protect.
Those with opposite in strength and abilities often end up with a different role such as fending for the youngsters or doing lighter tasks. And Serotonin or Oxytocin gives these people the sense of happiness and content over what they do to serve. It’s more like a detailed faction.
A feeling of safety is our main engine of progress and must be ensured by the group and its leader.
As mentioned above, those who can guarantee safety amidst danger or keep any threat at bay are often with the calling to lead. In this kind of situation, the leader is expected to keep the followers safe and sound at all cost. The followers, on the other hand, would have to keep the community progress with business as usual.
Leaders can create a squad that secures the safety 24/7, 365. And trust would be freely given by the followers. This way, the latter would know just how far the leader can extend the arm of provision and protection in times of dire needs.
A perfect example of this is Bob Chapman who made a history at HayssenSandiacre by going the extra mile in the context of providing for his people. He made the company goods and services accessible to his employees. Thus, this act made his followers feel valued, provisioned, and protected. Whether we still live in a cage or in buildings with elevators and massive floor areas, that need to feel covered never gets old.
Today, the leader decides a company’s culture and values, and thus their employees’ mentality.
CEOs play a vital role in assuring the company legacy as years and decades progress. This is why CEOs are the ones personally hand-picked and vetted to lead because they are viewed with the most appealing qualifications to execute the job. A company is not only just about the amazingly expensive structures with overwhelming number of investors and competitive employees. Without its CEO, it wouldn’t last long in the business.
Take Goldman Sachs for a good example. His ‘Long-Term Greedy’ business protocol during 1970 to 1990 operated under a specific agenda to prioritize their clients even if that meant financial loses. But when Blankfein took over the chair and worked with the company president, Gary D. Cohn, they abandoned Sachs’ protocol in favor of their short-term profits.
These examples of how the CEO affects the standards of the employees down to the very lowest in rank. It determines the confidence and behavior the employees have towards the business and the clients.
Another great example is what occurred in 2008 at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel during a terrorist attack. A number of the hotel staff and employees who already got themselves out of danger decided to go back to the hotel to perform the bravest customer service they can possibly offer.
Hotel guests who were attempting to escape the danger were protected by those brave employees by using their own bodies as human shields. Half of the casualties at that time were from the hotel staff and employees.
Our responsibility comes from our proximity to and empathy for others, without which we can cause great harm.
A leader can be two different things in nature—good and the opposite. Despite this, the relationship between the leader and the followers should not be compromised.
Leaders must have the ability to care for the followers. This way, the leader develops a sense of accountability for the people he/she must be responsible of.
Caring works best with empathy. Our human nature gives us the ability to sympathize and empathize to those people we care about. Empathy is where caring originates. The more we care, the more we empathize. This, when executed properly, can be a good trait of a true leader.
When do empathy leaves the room? This tends to happen when distance is added to the equation. A good example is the Milgram Experiment, wherein a group of volunteers (Teachers) were instructed to inflict electric shocks in levels of intensity of their own choosing. They were made aware that a group of people (Learners) would be on the receiving end of the act. They also know that the highest intensity produces lethal jolt.
What they were not made aware of was the fact that the Learners were actually actors and were not electrocuted at all. Not knowing this, many from the Teachers’ group voiced out immense amount of discomfort regarding the act. These were the participants who were faced with the Learners being inflicted with electricity shocks.
Then as the experiment progressed, Milgram decided to deduct proximity between the Teacher and Learner by applying more distance in between. And the more the inflictor couldn’t hear nor see the recipient’s performance of writhing and screaming in pain, the more the inflictor dares to go for the lethal voltage.
When we lose empathy and stop caring, we tend to put our needs over others’. Just like how the staff and crew prioritized less expenditures over securing the right number of lifeboats boarded.
Bad leadership has contributed to modern-day selfishness and the dehumanization of others.
One of the safest conclusions regarding the matter of leadership is that great leaders are plucked from a group or community they were able to build connections with.
During the end of the World War II era, the generation of the baby boomers was expected to produce the next leaders to lead the masses back to the lost glory. However, contrary to expected, this generation personally vetted and spoiled to become the next great ones developed selfishness and opposition to elderly rulings.
An example of such behavior was in 1981 when President Ronald Reagan fired 11,000 striking workers in favor of the companies who are against the air traffic controllers’ requests for higher compensation and well-beings.
Putting profits on a pedestal in exchange for anything else is a strong way to dehumanize people, especially those who are considered as followers. In most cases, people can only be viewed as added costs, abstractions, or just numbers in pursuit of a higher purpose to generate more profit. When this happens, people would no longer be humans worth empathizing for but tools that can be used for agendas created.
In 2009, the Peanut Corporation of America knowingly shipped contaminated peanuts to more than three hundred companies they supply to despite being well aware of the salmonella outbreak and the shipment’s huge role in it. This is a tragic example of ‘profit over people’ mindset.
Modern society has become addicted to better and faster performance.
Our human nature is consisting of complex combinations involving science working on our hormones.
In America Online, an offer arose for ‘free hours’ to gather as many new customers they can get to sign up. It resulted to 1,000 free hours per month. But as a long-term result, the company lost a lot of money paying the consequences of applying shortcuts to their success.
We go for fast performance, fast resolutions, and fast responses. Of course, it does not always guarantee good results as some great outcomes involve time. Going for short-lived does not do much good either.
As some activist groups would imply, a simple like on social media can show support, but getting out there to fulfill the purpose is the true meaning of activism.
Integrity and the ability to bond with others are essential for leadership.
A true leader knows that integrity is one of the key factors in maintaining the respect of his/her people. When the subordinates view the leader as someone they can trust, they crave to mimic the ways of the leader and aim to produce the same level of standards being set as an example.
If the leader can showcase good integrity partnered with responsibility and clothed with trust, the employees can contribute in the foundation of the trust and honesty. It attracts the same kind of behavior towards the leader and the company.
Back in 2009, the Argentine branch of Ralph Lauren Corporation was involved in a case of bribery. Instead of covering up, the company decided to involve the American authorities with full cooperation to investigate and further fix the problem. The company may have lost million dollars due to penalties, but earned respect towards their integrity.
Being a leader means putting others ahead of yourself in order to fulfill a vision.
When a leader envisions what can uphold the morale and well-being of his/her people, then true leadership arises. And this is rewarded by profit.
Bill Gates, who aimed to not earn billions of dollars or be known as one of the richest man in the world but rather put a computer in every desk, has shown us that life-changing visions are worth having. And to be able to maintain such vision amidst the overwhelming profit generated through it was one of Bill Gates’ true leadership traits.
Great leaders are great servants. A great wolf pack alpha would march last to make sure none of his wolves get left behind. Most of the leaders in Marine Corps would end up eating their meal after everyone under their supervision has done. Leaders Eat Last.
Leading people can often be viewed as a luxury, but only true leaders know that leading is a calling to put you own needs behind and focus on what gets your people on top—even if it means staying below to lift everyone else.
Leaders envision the future and determine how the whole group can be chauffeured towards that direction while ensuring each and everyone has enough room to grow.
To strive for leadership is to embrace service. A genuine leader is a genuine servant. It’s imperative that the followers trust their leader without any reservation. Only then an authentic bond will be reinforced and success can be guaranteed.
So, are you willing to eat last?