Guest submission from Carter McNamara of Authenticity Consulting, LLC.
An Earlier Time When We Fantasized Heroic Leaders
In the 1960s and ‘70s, many of us took part in “rap” sessions. Back then, rapping was a free-floating discussion, usually centered around utopian dreams of what society should be, but wasn’t. We lamented how corrupt “the establishment” was, how adults didn’t understand us and how business was ruining the world.
We fantasized a world where business leaders worked only for the good of humankind, where leaders stopped war or famine, where leaders ensured everyone was happy everywhere all the time. We desperately needed heroic leaders.
Too Often We Blamed Leaders – We Should’ve Blamed Ourselves
But even back then, many of us were haunted that, rather than working to improve the world, we were actually trying to escape from it. Rather than trying to understand the world of those who had bills to pay or children to feed, we believed instead that we were the only ones who really knew “the truth.”
Soon we grew tired of the rap sessions – each one sounded like the last. Soon we quit tuning in. Instead, many turned on — and too many just dropped out.
Are We Again Searching for Heroic Leaders to Save Us?
Just read any article about leadership today (especially those written by consultants) and those articles very likely assert an almost inhuman range of features that leaders simply must have. They must be visionary, inspirational, motivational, virtuous, principled, centered, humble, servants, passionate, productive, mentor, counselor, coach, facilitator, wise, nurturant, diplomatic, learning, adaptable, fun, assertive, not aggressive, systems thinker, conscientious and on and on. Consultants assert that leaders should be “true leaders” and “they should not be managers”.
Deep Yearning for Meaning Today – No One Else Can Give That To Us
A famous movement in philosophy is “existentialism.” There are many different major players in this movement, some of them deeply religious and some atheists. But all of them believed that each individual was responsible for the quality – the essence – of his/her own life.
Many believed that if someone tries to avoid the responsibilities and tensions of day-to-day reality, then that person will fall into chronic anxiety, boredom and despair. Means to avoid reality might include addictions or the belief that one is somehow outside the rest of the routine world. Chronic fantasies are also very popular means to avoid reality.
How much are we just fantasizing when we assert the many wondrous traits of the “true leader”?
Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD – Authenticity Consulting, LLC – 800-971-2250
Read my weekly blogs: Boards, Consulting and OD, Nonprofits and Strategic Planning.