What’s the value of leadership? What price do we place on leadership? As I recall from reading, listening, watching and observing information, media, and live “performances” of leaders, I’ve paused to take away a few things about leaders and their value. But first, let me clarify what value in this context means.
First, it is not the material return on an investment. While it is true that a good leader may provide a person or their company with increased value, that in of itself does not really translate the value of leadership. Second, it is also not about the values that the leader brings to the relationship with a person, though values are extremely important in leaders and how they conduct themselves. In this context, value is that emotional connection between you and the leader.
Huh? Why should me, you or anyone really care about the emotional connection between themselves and leaders? Well, as I think about past, present and no doubt future leaders, the one thing that comes to mind very quickly is the emotional engagement between the leader and those that are in or within their realm. The emotional return is what drives many people to follow (sometimes blindly) leaders regardless of the leaders economical, political or social returns. We should care because this type of connection – particularly when the leader defies norms – can be dangerous to the stability of the group.
Isn’t this just charisma and/or popularity? To a certain degree that’s true. However, I think the leader I’m speaking of can attract those emotional returns and not necessarily be charismatic or a popular icon. It’s something else – something deeper – and (perhaps) those attributes that makes these connections so remarkably personal, may lead some to an emotional state where they may verge on fanaticism.
And the bottom line? As we define the 10’s if not 100’s of traits, characteristics, styles, types, etc. of leaders, think about one thing that can’t really be defined, and that is the emotional connection a person or group has with someone that is promoted (in whatever fashion) to a position of leadership. This type of leadership connection has an almost unbreakable bond, and thus may endure despite constant criticism, social-political pitfalls, or majority discontent. In other words, in their minds, “Haters gonna hate.”
by Rick Patterson, teacher and learner at the Thomas Jennings Open Learning Village