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No Leader is an Island

During classroom group activities, we would usually point at someone who appears smart; we choose someone who wears thick eyeglasses or who sits confidently in his or her armchair.

A leader is someone who is in charge. It sounds so simple, but being one is hard even for someone with the eyeglasses. But really, what makes a person a leader? What makes some individuals sit on that throne with extra burden to carry than just staying as a member following orders?

Charisma, intelligence and reputation are some attributes that when present in a person, become factors that make other people choose him or her as their leader, but there is more to being one than that.

A leader can be summed up into two basic ideas: (1) the leader spearheads everything and (2) s/he is the first to come in and the last to come out.

Spearheads everything, you say? Famous military commanders of old lead cavalries into the vast sea of swords. It is like a suicide run, but it provides great inspiration. Therefore, a leader should not be a puppet master pulling the strings from behind but instead creates the initiative within the group, encourages the mute group mates to speak their ideas, and always show an enthusiastic mood to motivate the sleep-deprived.

Since the leader takes the initiative, preparations need to be done which is why the leader is the first to come in. You cannot actually do something if you don’t know what you are doing and an efficient group would always mean a well-informed group, provided that they cooperate and arrive at the specified time. That is not to say that the group members themselves do not have the responsibility of being informed, then again, are not we all clueless until we are led by our leader?

This then brings up my point why the leader is the last person to come out. At the end of the day, your group would have done something productive to further the task, and undoubtedly, they all would want to go home. Now, the mentality here would be that group works like these are tedious and a waste of time. A leader would make you think otherwise. A reason for that would be the constant laughing and joke-making (provided that you have a good sense of humor) accompanied by the solemnity of doing tasks. You would even begin to think that it is not tiring at all. The last man out has to switch off the lights as the leader has to send the group off in an ecstatic mood.

There are leaders who have all these qualifications, but good ones who last under the demands of their positions are difficult to find. Some tend to not wholeheartedly take responsibilities and to run away from obligations attached to their position. Some get disheartened easily when things start to get wrong. Some cannot take necessary criticisms. No leader is perfect. Each day is an opportunity to improve and to thrive as leadership skills are continuously exercised.

But it is always comforting for leaders to know that they are never alone. Their foundation of strength and encouragement comes from the members. It is true that behind every good leader, there are good members. They do their tasks well and offer whatever they have that may contribute for the success of a certain project. They give constant reminders when things go rough on the journey towards group goals. They choose to trust enough because they subject themselves under good hands.

In Gurren Lagann, a Japanese anime series I have been watching lately, Kamina told Simon, “Believe in me! Believe in the Kamina who believes in you!”

I believe that leaders could always live by this. And with more Kaminas, more goals will be achieved.

The Confused Thinker
Linden C. Sia

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