Sunday, May 10, 2009

It's Something Else Entirely

The Difference Between Leadership and Domination

It is commonplace to refer to our dearly elected as leaders. But are they leaders? Who or what do they lead? Using the word in the strict sense of going first while everyone else follows, our elected officialdom consistently takes the country in the wrong direction; away from where the people who live and work here, by vast majority, want to go.

That is not leadership. It is something else entirely.

I think it's important to define leadership and understand its purpose. I have some strong ideas on leadership and what a leader is. I offer them to you for your perusal and consideration. If you find that you agree with my take on what a leader is and what they are supposed to do, then you can decide for yourself what our dearly elected in Washington D.C. are actually up to. You may come to the same conclusion that I have, that they are not by any stretch "leaders".

There is an easily discerned line between leaders and tyrants. It would do us well to know the difference.

The main role of leadership is to help people get where they want to go. Leadership is specifically about individuals. It challenges individuals to think in new ways and to try to achieve things they don't believe they can achieve. Leadership is coaching. It is guidance. It is experience and wisdom. Leadership is never about the leaders because the end goal of good leaders is to become useless; to no longer be needed by others in order to achieve their goals. Leaders empower others.

The main goal of dominators/controllers is to get people to go where they themselves want to go and do what they themselves want done. Nothing is done for the benefit of the individuals they control, in fact those being controlled give much more than they receive in return. Domination and control is all about the dominators and controllers. Individuals become irrelevant when they are controlled or dominated. Domination is undemocratic. There is rigidity in thought and action and a tendency to focus on the letter of the law as opposed to the spirit of the law. Domination and control is about hierarchy and illegitimate power over others. Dominators use others for their own ends. Dominators and controllers jobs are never done because people will always need to be controlled or they'll be something other than what the dominators want them to be. Dominators disempower others.

Leaders don't tell people what to do, or what to think. Leaders are not controllers, dominators or enforcers. We have different words for all those things because they are not the same things, they are different. Leadership may at times encompass certain elements of these other things but it will never be fully comprised of them, else leaders cease being leaders and become controllers, dominators or enforcers. If that happens it should be clear that leadership has nothing to do with it, and it becomes something else entirely.

Leaders are first and foremost guides. Facilitators. Enablers who help others get where they want to go. Leadership is about management, but management that is intensely people focused and very personal. Leadership is specifically about people; it is guiding people out of their own way to help them realize themselves. When it's done right, individuals are empowered and armed to go forth and use the best of themselves to full capacity. When it's done wrong, individuals are controlled and dominated down to being what their "leaders" demand, usually at the cost of individuality and critical thinking, as well as personal dignity, creativity, power, and choice.

There is a world of difference between domination and leadership.

Dominators/controllers do tell people what to do and what to think. They'll have slogans and posters to reinforce required thoughts and desired opinions. Dominators confine and subordinate extraneous creativity and intellect. They are threatened by critical thought and questioning and will seek to silence these things and crush the people who do them, often quite brutally. Dissenters are minimized and ridiculed. Dissent is punished.

Dominators insist there is only one way of seeing and doing things, which is 100% unquestioningly their way. Dominators demand loyalty and do not respect individual will. Dominators demand total submission and revile anything that deters from the conformity and adherence to rules they demand.

When leaders see hidden potential they work to encourage its development. Leaders encourage critical thought and questioning, trying to expand the self-limiting thinking most people have and take it beyond the imposed mental boundaries that exist nowhere in reality but in beliefs and perceptions. Leaders say there are many ways to do things, but right ways and wrong ways and the right way is better, and they can explain why. Leaders know that no two people are alike.

Leaders who have power use it to clear immovable obstacles out of the paths of those that look to them for guidance. When those without power cannot move the boulders out of their own paths, leaders will use their legitimate power to move it for them and get them back on their desired paths. The use of power to control or dominate others, to force submission, to instill fear, to create dependence or to demand obedience is the misuse of power. Legitimate power is used to help others who are weaker. Illegitimate power is used against weaker others to benefit those who are strong. Legitimate power is not about getting your own way. Illegitimate power is only about getting your own way, often at any cost to others.

Leaders take personal and direct responsibility for their actions. Power without responsibility is tyranny, which is precisely what we have in government and much of officialdom today. An important element of legitimate power is that those who make decisions that affect others lives take full responsibility for those decisions. If mistakes are made or harm is done as a result of their actions or decisions it can be defined and corrected and steps can be taken to assist and recompense those who were harmed. Without absolute responsibility attached to power, people get hurt, often seriously and there is nothing to be done about it by law.

Legitimate power is never used to force others to serve or obey those in power. Legitimate power serves those who are unable to exact justice or instigate necessary change for themselves. Legitimate power helps people out of their myriad prisons and ruts and shows them how to use what they've got to become independent and strong.

Domination/control reduces people to nothing, to powerlessness, and refuses to hear their voices. Illegitimate power separates itself from others. It isolates and exists in privacy. It is not transparent. It explains nothing. It constructs enormous self protective boundaries around itself while concurrently stripping away all protective boundaries from those they control. Dominators usually hold double standards giving all good to themselves and projecting all negatives onto those they dominate and control and those they see as threats. Illegitimate power never cleans up its own messes. It expects to be waited on hand and foot. It asserts that what it extracts from others is due and owed and those it is extracted from must give over or be punished. Disagreement is punished. Dissent is silenced. Facts are obfuscated. Truth is censored. Obedience is required.

Illegitimate power removes alternatives, coerces choices, diminishes possibilities, and in so doing corrupts justice and denies human dignity. Illegitimate power is wholly self excusing but falsely proclaims the guilt of others, even without any semblance of proof. Illegitimate power is hypocritical and brutal, deceptive and expensive, unjust and offensive. Illegitimate power is unaccountable and unreasonable. It does not bow to common sense. It is spoiled and self-obsessed. It cannot be trusted. It is cowardly and demands special treatment and special privileges that are never extended to others. It feeds on others, and it is insatiable. It will feed on others to their deaths.

Good leadership empowers people to think and act for themselves. Good leadership explains and exemplifies good ethics and moral behavior. Leaders are role models. They know they will be emulated and they seek to do and be their personal best. A good leader is not a hypocrite and does not play favorites. Leaders earn trust while controllers simply demand it.

Leaders empower others. Because leadership is very much about setting people free from things that prevent them from reaching their potential, when necessary, as it often is, leaders literally must give people "permission" to loose those bindings and become the strong capable beings they really are. By and large, people who are used to being dominated, controlled and coerced into compromised positions in order to receive a necessary benefit are unable to release themselves from externally defined and demanded boundaries. They need someone else whom they perceive as an equal to their dominators to give them permission to be free. Once that is done it can elevate people to full capacity. Once permission is embraced, further permission is no longer needed and indeed, may be passed on to others.

The goal of good leaders is to make themselves useless. When leaders are no longer needed because those who have looked to their leadership are fully empowered and capable of handling whatever comes their way, the leaders are free to go on to new challenges and do the same for a new group of people. Good leadership produces tangible, measurable results
Individuals who look to that leadership know they are better off, stronger, more comfortable with themselves and the world they live in. They will see things differently, meaning seeing a bigger picture. They will feel better off and will often acknowledge and appreciate the good leadership that changed their lives. Things do change for the better under the guidance of good leadership. Change for the worse comes from the lack of good leadership, not due to the presence of it.

Leaders are motivators. The best skills of leaders aren't necessarily taught, they are human and real. Leaders understand others or at least seek to understand them. Leaders care about people. Leaders correct others without insulting or belittling them, they positively motivate others out of erroneous thinking and behavior. It requires tremendous personal commitment and involvement to be a good leader. Above all it requires selflessness.

I don't think we see much selflessness out of Washington D.C. On the contrary. That place is a raging cesspit swimming with narcissists, thieves and liars, abusers, cronies, and dark dealers. They play to enrich themselves and we get passed the bill for all their partying.

Observing the behaviors that have become standard operating procedure in the hallowed halls of government, one should be struck by the utter lack of selflessness and true guidance and leadership there is. In fact, the few solo voices that stand up and make a case for common sense or benefiting the public instead of the private interests of those who lobby them brings on an automatic cold shoulder and an instant rejection from the corrupted herd behavior and self centered parasitic feasting on public funds and abuse of the citizenry in literally every avenue across the board that is the status quo amongst our dearly elected.

Politicians are liars first and foremost. I'm sorry if that offends anyone but it's not a news flash. "Lying politicians" is a term that's been with us for a very long time. We should expect politicians to be liars. They are successful because they are such compelling orators, they can sell themselves as completely believable and trustworthy because they are salesmen and that is their product. They are unequaled at saying what people want to hear. They are unrivaled at coming up with reasonable sounding excuses for consistently failing to bring home the things that people most want and need, the things that people have always wanted and needed. The perceived battle of politics is that it is so hard to bring about the needed changes that will finally, after hundreds of years, lift all people out of poverty and lead them to self sufficiency. That particular ruse has been worn threadbare after so many years of us paying through the nose and getting nothing back for it. It would not be that hard to achieve the right things but it is impossible to achieve the right things when that's not the goal. What is consistently achieved is exactly the opposite. That's what our elected achievers consistently achieve.

Leadership doesn't give people bread it teaches them how to grow the grain and make the flour and bake the bread themselves. That is the last thing this government wants. It wants a dependent populace. It needs a dominated populace of loyalists, of non-thinking, non-questioning obedient submissive children who will swallow every lie and calmly take every abuse, theft and indignation without complaint. That is what modern patriotism amounts to. Blindness, deafness and dumbness. Servility. Cheer leading for your side even though you always lose and they always win at your expense.

Dominators have the skill to get inside people's minds and make them feel good about being abused, make them believe that sometimes governments have to lie to get "the job done", and all other manners and styles of making people look at something but see it as something else. That's not leadership. That's not even moral. It's very scary stuff. It's also status quo.

I've wondered a lot lately why so many people want to be dominated, because they do. The people of our country, inclusive of both the left and right, in a very sweeping general sense, seem to me to represent a division between those who prefer leadership and those who want to be dominated. At first glance it may seem that there is no common ground here so this rent in the populace can never be mended. If you look again though, there is still a firm bit of common ground.

That common ground is the desire to do right and be right. It is inherent in most of us I believe, that we want to do the right things. If we stop and think about what we do, we can always ask ourselves, regardless of the specifics of any given situation or moment, is this the right thing or the wrong thing for me to do? We can do that whether we prefer to be individual thinkers or followers of a dominant personality. Right and wrong still exists no matter what we believe.

Identifying what is right is half the battle. Rejecting what is wrong is the other half. And therein lies the ultimate continuing struggle, the battle that is within every one of us and always has been and always will be. Shall we do right or shall we do wrong? Which will we choose and why? If our appetites over rule our desire to be better human beings we will dismiss what is needed for what is wanted. We will behave badly, immorally, to others in order to satisfy our wants and egos, our selfishness and greed, our racism, narcissism, aggression, and desire for revenge. We will take sides as if life was a team sport and lose our own dignity and purpose. We will dilute ourselves down to a common mind and seek to meld ourselves into the team logos we root for and tell ourselves we are right when we've never honestly stopped to think about whether that's true or false. Right becomes something that is asserted, something that we can contrive or define ourselves, and that's simply not possible. Right is right and wrong is wrong already. It is very much a natural law, just like gravity is a natural law. You can't defy gravity, and you can't sell wrong as right for too long. When we embrace officially provided definitions of right and wrong instead of locating the truth of what is right or wrong for ourselves, we will without fail be led to wrong that is called right. The consequences of that cannot be escaped. Or denied. We live in a time when the consequences of many decades of lies have empowered thousands upon thousands of team sport motivated non-thinking status quo promoting gas bags to gorge their own appetites to public detriment and poison our environment to near collapse and our public morality into a clueless decomposing corpse.

We are war mongers and hypocrites from the top down. Motivated by personal gain, incapable of respecting others, demanding loyalty and obedience. When we see something we want we take it by force, even when force is not necessary. We behave like giant scary infants who think of nothing but themselves, and don't grasp the concept of tomorrow or of cause and effect. Like infants we are totally self obsessed and self centered, expecting everyone to see to our every whim and want and do it now. And when we don't get what we want we have destructive tantrums and seek vengeance. We want to teach lessons to those who don't instantly give us our every demand.

The people who set the direction of this country don't have a clue what leadership is. I'm not even convinced they're adults sometimes. I wouldn't bet that they retain concepts in their heads of right and wrong. Indeed, in the cesspool of big government, reality is what they say it is. They've said so in their own words.

Surely anyone with a functional brain knows that we don't decide reality, it is what it is regardless of us. Ignoring truths is not the same as solving problems. Pretending things are okay when they're not is a rigged contest of selling lies to get more for ourselves.

Can compassion win out over greed? Can respect and tolerance take the place of ignorance and violence? With good leadership it certainly could be that way. With good leadership we could go about anywhere and achieve limitless possibilities. I have to conclude that what we have passing as leadership for this country is in fact the exact opposite of leadership. It is anti-leadership. It is un-American. It is against individual power and dignity, and demands submissive obedience. It extracts more than it gives back. That which is us is being systemically minimized and disempowered while that which is them is being enlarged and hyper empowered, defying common sense and in blatant contradiction to their stated reasons for being there in those positions.

We now work for them. On their terms. Our wants and needs don't matter. They want our money and demand our compliance. If they say starve we're supposed to lay down and starve. When bankers predate us to death, they tell us to lay down and die. When police drive Army tanks down our city streets, electrocute us with "compliance" devices, snap our necks in holding cells and beat us to death, they tell us that is protecting us and to lay down and take it. I see a pattern here. To those at the top there is one answer for everything. Death.

If you are poor, die.
If you are sick and can't afford medicine or a doctor, then die.
If you need an education but can't purchase it, die.
If you need help, die.
If you are weak, die.

So that I can be happy and prosperous, you must die.

That's not leadership. But it's what they're giving us and telling us to love it.

Ultimately, leadership is service. It is unselfish. It is never about the leader or serving the leader but about the leader skillfully, effectively showing those who follow him the way to get where they want to go. Leaders don't have to be cuddly or warm and fuzzy but they must be moral and ethical and fair. They must be generous people who do care about every person under their responsible leadership and they must honestly desire to give each of those people something of real value that will make them stronger people, equipped with knowledge and philosophies that will carry on the good foundational values the leader possesses and lives by. Leading by example is the real thing. "Do what I say but not what I do" is not valid, at least not in adult settings and certainly never in political settings. Leaders are not superiors and whatever authority they have should be given them out of respect and voluntarily. Leaders operate from respect and really good leaders make everything they do and everywhere they go better somehow. People honestly love good leaders and learn a great deal from them that empowers them and makes their own personal lives better.

With that in mind, how close do you think our dearly elected, or our whole system for that matter, measures up? Not so good, huh? That leaves an obvious question to ask. If our elected officials aren't really leaders, then what the hell are they and what are they doing and why? What do we have here? If it's not all about us, and it's not, then why would we want it? It's supposed to be there for us, it's supposed to be us. It only exists because we're here. The way they're doing it they've made clear that the first priority is covering their own asses and generously taking care of themselves. We rarely enter the picture and every time we do all hell breaks loose. Just asking for what's rightfully ours brings on a balls out cat fight. Clearly the status quo likes things the way they are and they'll defend it with all they've got; and they have way more than we have. Why shouldn't they like it. The way it's set up is that they benefit and we pay for it and get as little as they can get away with giving us back for it.

The shame of the congress giving itself magnificent raises and lifetime benefits while at the same time excusing themselves from raising the minimum wage year after year after year frames the truth of this picture. Food stamps for the hungry are hyped as the dishonest ploy of lazy, immoral people who want something for nothing; while corporate welfare in the hundreds of billions of dollars to the most profitable wealthy corporations in the world is not a ploy of lazy, dishonest, immoral people who want something for nothing by the truckload; that's good. Sure it is. If you're the corporation. If you're anyone else it's a blatant breathtaking rip off.

Which in essence, at least in my humble opinion, is exactly what our hulking, expensive, closed circle of privately owned and operated for profit government has become, a rip off. That's not nearly as much of a news flash as it used to be but I doubt anyone's made the case with as much to back it up as I just did from the perspective of an ordinary person. Let's stop slathering our dearly elected with unearned compliments that only serve to further spread the myth that what they do is actually "leadership". It's not. It's something else entirely.


  1. Anonymous4:50 PM

    I am 55 years old.

    I think this is the best essay I have ever read in my life on the subject of Leadership.

    I was a Team Leader from an early age in British industry.

    I wasn't very good - I met far better leaders than me - but all the best leaders I ever came in contact with were so phenomenaly brilliant at empowering and challenging and demanding that you come up with some even better ideas to make it work.

    The best time I had when it really was a question of life and death - for the Company. We either do the impossible against all odds - and make it successful - or we fail - and lose Everything

    And so we worked our balls off doing 7x15 - and being available 24x7 on-call

    And we made it work

    We led from behind - by sheer embarrassment - we the management got our hands dirty - and cleaned the toilets and got them pizzas at 23:00 on a Sunday night

    So - because you wrote the best piece I have ever seen on Leadership

    I posted it in the UK - with a link on Craig Murray's blog.

    I like him cos he complained about TORTURE


  2. Thank you Tony, for the compliment and for your comment.


  3. Anonymous7:27 PM


    Thank You For What You Said.

    It Said So Much.

    You Are Incredibly Talented and have a Heart of Gold.

    Love & Peace,


  4. Ang,

    Many thanks for your extremely well written essay...It is so good and of very high standard that I keep on reading it, as it is so extremely well done... Tony 's comments sums it all...
    Wish there would be more people like you...
    Many thanks and wishing you all the very best life can offer...

    ps. sorry my comments' late, only saw this essay today...

  5. This was an article we publish today 11-06-2009

    ISA and the panopticon: the anatomy of fear

  6. I am so glad that this subject matter was of interest to you. It is of critical importance to me. Good leadership is honestly one of the most important, pertinent things in the world. So many people want to follow and so many leaders unfortunately are grossly unqualified to fill those positions. Thank you for letting me know you see what I see here. It's wonderful to know.

    Thank you for each of your comments.