Hi, I’m Rebecca, and I’m a subversive. (Hi Rebecca)
I belong to a subversive group.
I think subversive thoughts.
I participate in subversive activities.
In a blog about leadership, you’d think I’d be talking about a leader stating a vision and everyone holding hands and skipping down the yellow brick road together. Well, at times, I find myself modeling the Wicked Witch of the West. “You squashed my sister! You dirty rat!” Wait, Cagney wasn’t in that movie…
It’s almost like if I’m not the leader, I’m not following. In fact, some of my comments and positions are seen by a current leader as an attempt to take the leadership role away, though that is not my intention. I do not want to embarrass the leader and rob someone of the chance to learn and grow in the process. And many times, I do not have the interest or the time to effectively lead the group. But I will offer some of my wisdom to improve the leadership skills so the group can go the right direction for the right reason, especially if I’ve been on the path before. The leader doesn’t have to accept all the suggestions, but should take them seriously, and at least try some.
As I look back on my life, I find I have been greatly influenced by George Carlin, rest his soul. He looked at things like the little boy in the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes. If it didn’t make any sense, he made fun of it, exaggerated it, laughed at it, and changed our perceptions. Now, many people will do this to things and ideas they do not understand and that is due to ignorance. Ignorance means that the person making the observations does not have all the relevant information to make a judgment. But George was not like that; he was very intelligent and had done his research. I don’t want to come across as braggadocious, but I have accumulated a great amount of information from all types of disciplines–science, philosophy, mathematics, politics, history, literature, forensics ( the art or study of formal debate; argumentation), psychology…you get the idea. I have integrated this information in order to make wise decisions and further my education. When I see that Dorothy and her stupid rat, Toto, and the three stooges are headed in the wrong direction, and taking no precautions or advice, I CAUSE as much havoc as I can. Release the Kracken!!!! Flying Monkeys!!! whatever…
Be aware that I have been in numerous groups where I was not the leader, and I enjoyed myself thoroughly! I was on a path with my friends and we were accomplishing something. The leader knew the way, knew what to bring along, and if a challenge arose, together we would handle it. I have also been the leader where I was on the path and turned around to find I was by myself. Leading isn’t easy. We know that.
But I get subversive if my leader seems unsure of the path, tries to handle all the challenges single-handedly, doesn’t seek advice, and doesn’t trust the people picked to handle the aspects of the leadership position that should be left to Lieutenants. I get incensed when the only purpose of the followers is to follow. They do not accomplish anything and get no benefit other than moving from point A to point B. They have no reason to believe that point B is to be preferred to point A. Then the followers look at the path and realize it’s covered with dangerous undergrowth, has hidden pit falls, and predators staring out at them from the darkness. The leader says cheerily, “Let’s go!” and the followers say, “where and for pity’s sake WHY?” To which the leader replies, “Because it’s good for you–the members!” So is Kale. It seems that the goal of this mighty trek has nothing to do with the Emerald City and everything to do with getting the biggest crowd to follow. Along the way, they have to fight their fears of the dark, the flying monkeys, the poppy fields, the soldiers and me, the Wicked Witch, and the leader believes the only way to defeat this is with more people. In MMORPG, this is called a meat wall.
Meat walls, by the way, are easily defeated. The larger the group, the fewer escape options there are. You just ping around the edges. The ones in the middle don’t realize they’re in danger until they become the edge. As the Witch, I ping around the edges, point out little errors and inconsistencies. A little nip here, a little nip there, and those that already are on shaky ground behind this leader drop off. If the leader has a particularly distasteful pet peeve, we pull a Carlin on it. “Why would you abandon a time honored tradition for something so shallow and inconsequential that you have problems getting compliance from any of your followers?!” “But we’re trying to save TIME!” the leader pleads. Time is not an issue, never was, but Time may be this leader’s bugaboo. This throws doubt into the members that may have begun supporting the leader when the path was wide and bright yellow, and are now beginning to question their positions. “Why price events at such a high amount when you want the most people to come?” “Well, it’s cheaper than other events,” replies the leader. Now a real leader makes sure that communication with all the members is frequent and full of pertinent information and the followers continue to buy into the path. A positional leader gets defensive and the communication becomes more of a small group thing rather than widespread and easily understood. When the answers to the questions seem self serving and not well thought out, some of the more supportive members will start to back out. That will leave those that follow positional leaders because they must, the ones that follow because it’s the only way they know, and the ones that follow just for morbid curiosity. If these remaining followers are few in number, they will realize they are the last rats on the ship, and bail out. Hahahaaaaaaaaaaaaa! The Wicked Witch Wins! But the company/organization/club fails and it’s much harder to start from scratch a second time with the same people that watched it implode.
Why would I want to be a Witch then? If I want the corporation/organization/club to succeed and find delight in destroying the credibility of the leader, I’m working at cross purposes aren’t I? I think I do it as a last resort. This is not my 1st approach when Dorothy follows the Green Brick Road. I go to the leader in private and offer some suggestions, differing approaches, coaching points, recommendations for lieutenants that might actually help get the job done and everyone on the right path. I have sometimes guided a group to success by just coaching the leader, but I have just as often come across a patronizing, smug, arrogant leader that dismisses me as inconsequential and not as sophisticated in the art of leadership, then…