We discuss leader follower culture and persona—who you are as an individual, who you choose to follow, and whether or not you are prepared to lead.
The Lion and The Lamb: Leader Follower Culture
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. He rocked the fresh Nike Foams, with the fresh-off-the-rack monochrome t-shirt, the zip-up hoodie tied at the neck, the jeans with the tall cuffs—all that. Back when the North Face parka and performance fleece were winter staples. I found myself dressing like him after a period of time, buying white tees by the pack, wearing snapbacks flipped backwards with the strap really tight. I would spend my entire 5-dollars-an-hour check for the week on trying to keep up with the kid. I thought he was cool because of what he wore.
What made me want to borrow his style? Was it the clothes that made the kid or was it his confidence?
It’s simple, it was the IT factor you always hear about. I tend to believe it’s innate. No need for the Nature vs. Nurture debate. I’ve come to realize you can’t pretend to be comfortable in your own skin if you aren’t. No matter what’s draped or painted on it.
But let’s back up…
“Cultural contamination”, the mixing of culture from other regions, happens subconsciously over time. Talking like you’re from N’awlins because you like how Lil’ Wayne talks often happens gradually. It’s what makes our social media-driven society so fascinating to observe. Fads and trends travel with the speed of a few 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.This is why we can’t completely shrug off those who aspire to become the next Jobs’, Ford’s, and Disney’s of the world.
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 become 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…Join the Conversation
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