You ever been around a person long enough to pick up certain parts of their personality? You start to talk like them, or laugh like them at times, or even dress like them in some cases… This phenomenon says a lot about leadership.
When I was in high school, we had this kid that transferred in from the DMV—real cool dude. I mean, he stayed in some fresh Foams, a crispy white tee with the hoodie tied at the neck, the jeans with the tall cuffs—all that. I found myself dressing like the kid over time, scooping white tees by the pack, wearing snapbacks turned backwards strapped hella tight, you know, the The North Face parka—the whole nine. I thought he was cool because of what he wore—he was in exclusives regularly. Like every other day.
But was that what inclined me to borrow his style? Was it the clothes that made the kid or was it the kid’s confidence?
It’s simple, it’s the IT factor you always hear about that’s either innate or it isn’t. No need for the Nature vs. Nurture debate. I’ve come to realize you can’t pretend we are comfortable in our own skin if we aren’t. No matter what’s draped or painted on it.
But let’s back up…
“Cultural contamination” (the mixing of styles from other regions—talking like you from N’awlins because you like Weezy) happens subconsciously over time. It’s what makes our social media-crazed society so fascinating to watch. Fads and trends travel so quickly now and complete shifts of opinion can occur with single key strokes. It’s both exhilarating and terrifying. And it’s the future…
But I digress…
So now you’re dressing like your favorite people and your mannerisms are even similar, but how is it that your terminology and even your sentence structure mirrors theirs?
When two speakers become more similar in their speech, this is called convergence or accommodation. This can occur on all levels of language, phonetics and phonology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. When mutual intelligibility is not an issue, accommodation mainly occurs when speakers like each other or want to appear likable.
— Quora Contributor
It’s interesting to note, that in many cases, people aren’t even able to immediately acknowledge the accommodation. It’s actually one of the things that makes human-beings so sheep-like in groups.
A person’s ability to stand on their own convictions, own their style, embrace their peculiarity and their persona—will create the path by which divergence is possible. They become either outright influencers or social outcasts—perspective being the only thing that distinguishes the two. What the person does with their positioning at this point determines their propensity to shepherd.
Don’t fall a sheep. Stay with me…
Graham Bell, Washington Carver, Da Vinci, Newton, those guys were visionaries right? They were geniuses. Maybe, but that’s not the point. We’ve created this world where the works of our most prominent visionaries have been held in such high regard we worship the works. We dismiss the idea that their feats albeit exceptional are in reality just building blocks to even more exceptional advancement.
That’s at least the overarching perception we have painted. And we perpetuate it. We laughed at the idea of airplanes, and automobiles, at mobile phones, phones with no keys, at friggin’ light bulbs man!
There’s this preconceived presumption that the imitator can never exceed the exemplar. You got Gates, you got Page and Brin, you got Zuckerberg and Musk, and the list goes on. Many would argue they expounded on unoriginal ideas and/or technology but isn’t that the idea? To go further. To take it to the next level.
Reluctance and fear ought not suggest we are incapable as people. It however should prove that we instinctively desire leadership. That’s not a bad thing in itself but conformity arises out of fear of the unknown. It avoids the road less travelled BUT it sets the stage for leaders.
This is why we can’t completely shrug off those who aspire to becoming the next Jobs’, Ford’s, and Disney’s of the world. Maybe the leader-follower culture that drives all of our mediums today isn’t just some social fad but God’s way of telling some of us to break the mold and trail blaze. To pull back the curtain and approach the dark void. To lead—but then again—you’re too busy being soft…