The evolution of leadership

About leader and leadership a number of theories have been drafted. Among the most recurrent ones, we have that which says that the word leader is directly associated with those people who have the capability to influence or make the decisions on behalf of others. Disgracefully, this misleading definition usually prevent people from achieving the real leadership they try to show before other organizations or persons.

Real leadership is not a capability of influencing other groups or individuals. Real leadership is a set of attitudes, knowledge and abilities that make a person so different from others that he ends up inspiring those around him to follow not only him but also his words and example.

As a corollary, the worst mistake about leadership is to believe that a leader must be followed by fear or position. Real leadership comes as a result of admiration.

Trying to understand leadership

The role of leaders has not been the same along history. It has evolved. In the beginning, we lived an excessively violent era in which both men and women struggled day after day for the right to eat. We had a very primary need of security, too. Not only wild animals could come and devour us but we also needed to worry about other men who, either for hunger or greed, wanted to attack and steal to get the resources they gathered with so much effort.

To cover these needs, first men had two possibilities: Either each of them chose to learn to satisfy both needs by himself or herself individually; or trusting one another each of them assumed a part of this responsibility and coordinated their efforts so all of them could be satisfied. Then they understood that opting for the second option was safer. Soon this created a new need and it is here where the leader appeared.

The main need I am talking about is the capability of organizing the efforts of all the members of the group and make decisions. All of them knew that a wrong coordination could ruin all, even cost them their lives, and that is why they chose as first leaders those who could guarantee them the best performance in fulfilling the needs of the rest. In some cultures, these were the strongest men and in others they were the oldest or wisest.

If you take into account that every person is different and that each of us grows with different traits, abilities and even bodies; you will understand that this primary need required great courage, cleverness and even some cold-bloodiness. Despite men are one of the physically weaker creatures on earth, the objectives were a matter of surviving as species or not and so they could not be taken lightly... even in the most adverse circumstances.

The next step in the evolution of leadership

Many centuries later, specialization of men and the advance of technology allowed us to see these two very basic needs in general satisfied. I mean, every culture knew how to grow crops, hunt, fish, build, transfer their thoughts consistently by a means of communication and, among many others, they knew how to produce and use weapons. Mankind got to a balance point in which the struggle was not to eat or not to eat any more. There were other priorities and, at the same time, there was the constant threat of having to be permanently ready to fight. The threat did not come from wild beasts. It could come from the ambition, honour or desperate need of any other society.

If you think it twice, the responsibility of the leaders was not over a group of people either. A leader had to be ready to cover the needs of thousands of people.

As there were markets already, men reached the conclusion that the best way to ensure their own ability to defend themselves against an aggression or an emergency was accruing enough wealth to be able to buy food or weapons whenever they could be needed. The role of science became important in this epoch, too. Differences in technology could make a country to quickly fall under other nation's mercy. Leadership now needed to be different. It could not be a leadership of strength any more. It was a leadership of smartness. Those who could accrue more wealth to cover the needs of their inhabitants in any moment would get peace. Those who could not, were going to have a lot of troubles: not only from alien threats but also from the protests their own people could move. A nation will never stop with its demands.

And the domain of markets made a difference between rich and poor countries. And we can see the consequences of this differences of powers still today.

The third moment of leadership

The third big moment of leadership is this time. World societies have unified thanks to technology and the knowledge that made huge differences years ago and was so away, is now available for everyone and any of us. The consequence of this is so so known by everybody: You and I can now buy what we need from any place in the world and at the price that results more convenient for us. However and ironically, this has caused on earth a great distress: If everybody can buy what I produce from anywhere, what happens if anybody decides to buy from me? The answer is simple: I would starve to death.

Multiply this thought for seven billion people and you will have a good idea of why there is so much stress in the world.

What leaders need today

From an economic point of view, these days we are in need of a leader able to lead more sales to its organization. This will prevent it from going bankrupt and help it to continue providing their members with what they need to cover their needs. The negative side of this point is that organizations are time after time more ready to do "what it takes" to reach the sales they need to cover what they need to cover. And, consequently, the breach between those who have and those who don't is getting day after day less... "nice".

From a human point of view, we need a different kind of leader. Nowadays, this spirit of being ready to do "what it takes" to get what we are looking for is penetrating other scopes of our societies and transforming the way in which we are living our own lives. In other words, these days everybody is doing "what it takes" to satisfy his or her individual needs; and, if this gets out of control, it could cause serious troubles for future societies.

We need a comprehensive leader today. One who is able to produce what his group of people needs and one wise enough to distribute what he obtains in such a way that his followers will feel inspired to do the same with their folks. In other words, we need a leader who can be creative enough to have his organization stand out from the rest and, at the same time, fair enough to see that every individual obtains what he needs from his work. Apart from this, nevertheless, it is a must for this leader to have an additional ability: We are living in a time in which people are getting used to do "what it takes" to get what they need. This new leader needs to know how to transmit self-confidence to the members of his group, have them understand that there is no need to do "what it takes" never again... because an honest and coherent job will —in the short, medium and long terms— give better results.

This is the future leader.


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