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Saturday, February 20, 2010

DOUGLAS CASTLE RANTS: People Don't Follow Ideas; They Follow Other People

Douglas Castle Rants

Leadership: People Don't Follow Ideas; They Follow Other People - Leaders.

Dear Friends:

I have noticed a curious phenomenon. It is not only curious, but it is reaffirmed time after time in its consistency. If you don't have time to read this article in its entirety, I just make my point first, so that you can get back to watching television, playing Wii, or bowling:

If you determine that you want to be a truly great leader, you cannot merely spout rhetoric, or ideology or dogma -- you must walk the walk -- you must be the living exemplar or avatar of your own message. Leaders are not so much respected for their preaching as for their integrity - a leader must, himself or herself, be a believer, and not a hypocrite. You demonstrate your integrity, your faith, your strength and your commitment by living your life (at least publicly) as you would have others live theirs.

People follow people -- not words -- but special people with demonstrated devotion and the courage to take action. The principle characteristic that separates true leaders from philosophers, teachers and "coaches" (sadly it seems that almost everyone today who is not otherwise employed feels qualified to be a coach, but nobody has enough faith in most of these coaches, or enough disposible income, to purchase their services) is that leaders are part of the action of change... they are not afraid to walk into the battlefield. A leader doesn't just spout ideas -- he or she says, by action as well as words, "Follow me; I'll take you there."

When my children were very young, they occasionally listened (or pretended to listen to) my lectures on conduct, ethics, cleanliness and other subjects that parents are constantly "preaching" to their children about. Sometimes the advice took root, but often, it did not. I then began using repetition, to reinforce these ideas. It made a slight difference, but I was not coming across.

Watching my children play, I noticed that they were often mimicking me (with hilarious accuracy), or their mother. It dawned on me that they were much more interesting in watching and learning from my real-life, real-time demonstrated example than from my rhetoric and repetition.

It taught me something about leadership. While a teacher or a philosopher talks about ideas, a leader has to exemplify them.

People (children and adults alike) follow other people much more readily than they do concepts. Most everyone would rather see a living example than hear about an abstraction or a hypothetical case. A leader who does not practice what he promotes will lose credibility. A leader must lead by example.

Bear in mind that people follow other people --they follow LEADERS - not ideas.

Also, remember that a Leader is motivated by an idea greater than his or her own fame, fortune or power -- a leader must represent and strive toward an objective that is of benefit to a large segment of society, and not something that is perceived as self-serving or exploitive.

There is a shortage of true, effective leadership today. Instead of leaders, we have "officials," "administrators," "moderators," and "power-mongers." Because of the pandemic of unteable politcal corruption and compromise, because of the pandemic of investigation, prosecution and criticism instead or creation and construction, because of the lack of clear direction and focus on the part of those who supposedly run our social, religious and governmental institutions, there is a greater hunger for true leadership than there has been in many years.

Do you want to be a leader? Set an example. Be a problem-solver. Get into the trenches with the troops. Be courageous. Be consistent. And above all, don't waste your constituents' time with excuses and explanations ... they have already heard enough of those.

If you are driven to fill the power vacuum, you must fill it with substance.

We need leaders. Not critics. Not whiners. Not sabateurs and terrorists. Not prosecutors. Not graceless negativists, wishing for the failure of others regardless of the consequences for others. Not haters. Not photo-opportunists. Not partisan wonks with pre-sold votes. Not atrophied and priviledged elitists. Not graffitti artists. Nobody who runs from responsibility or from questions about himself or herself can ever be a true leader.

We need people who are so strong in their beliefs that they will boldly lead the charge for positive change and put themselves at risk for what they believe in and for those whom they wish to save.

Yes... crises of confidence and trust precipitate economic recessions, business failures and social decay. They require true leadership, as well as intelligent, informed policymaking to be resolved.

Where are the leaders? All of Humankind needs you.


Douglas Castle

For more information, please visit Douglas' TNNW Bio.

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1 comment:

Peter Biadasz said...


Excellent article! One of your best works.

Peter Biadasz

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