Concept: Leadership

As much as I dig the Starsiege: Tribes game, back in the day anyway – though I feel compelled to mention that the soundtrack for Tribes: Ascend, the latest one (which I haven’t played much), has a few tracks that’re utterly phenomenal – what I am talking about today is something quite different.

Having recently discovered Seth Godin, an author of a multitude of books that tend to focus on personal change and entrepreneurship. I like to consume these so-called self-help styled texts in between fiction works to shake things up, and Tribes is – in a nutshell – about leadership, about how people in modern society, more than ever, are conditioned to follow, and how because of this, leaders are needed more than ever. Regrettably, negative people will shoot down what Godin has to say as nothing new or helpful. Clearly, his works are not for those folks. I found his writings, even if some of it was obvious, to be worded in such a way to be made quite clear to me, and that’s all I needed to make some changes.

Now to understand his concept of tribes, as well as leadership, it must be said that for one, being part of a tribe is a natural human tendency. We’re pack animals, after all (though I have heard humans being referred to as herd animals, on occasion). Therein lies some of our greatest strengths, but also some of our weaknesses. Following a group is not always a good thing, but it’s not always bad either. To be in a tribe, there must be some sense of belonging yes, but also exclusion. This, too, is not always as bad as it sounds.

One’s tribe need not be that of bloodties, such as a clan, but rather a group of people who share ideals, goals and world views. The tribes of Apple and Google are cited as examples, who not only have formed a corporate tribe – for the employees – but also a tribal following. The same can be said for churches, political movements and anything to do with improving a skill.

As an author, Seth Godin also has a bit to about self-marketing and entrepreneurship, which easily ties into the main point of being a leader. And, perhaps biggest of all, he emphasizes that leadership is not a born skill: it is acquired. It can be learned; charisma is a choice, not a gift. After interviewing a large body of leaders from many fields, it was found that there were those who were shy, those who were extroverted; those who were great at public speaking, and leaders who froze in front of a crowd. It isn’t about forcing people to follow you, it’s about finding like-minds who see something in common, and wish to realize that goal, whatever it is.

I also took away an excellent tidbit that I found hugely inspiring for a secondary character in my own fiction. This character is meant to be one of the greatest leaders of the age, but how could I write a leader without falling into cliches about Just Doing It And People Miraculously or Before The Big Battle pep-talks? Certainly there are many ways, but as I said, I was inspired by a simple point made by Godin: What makes a great leader is not someone who tells everyone what to do – it’s someone who allows their “subordinates” the freedom to do what they do best. In other words, the leader knows his men/women/soldiers/etc., and trusts them to do what they do.

One really ought to read Seth Godin’s books; I intend to absorb more, and have myself been inspired to lead, even if for a start, it means steering my life the way I want it to go. I urge you all to do the same!

Happy writing, dear readers!