When Leaders are Selfish
In a world of “you or me,” for me to win, you have to lose, or vice versa. In a “you or me” world, for me to look good, you have to look bad, or vice versa. In this kind of world, my success will not include your success. This principle holds true even for leadership. A leader who lives in a “you or me” world needs to protect his or her self-interest in order to win. For most part, this creates a state of unworkability within the group he or she is trying to lead.
According to Platt (2011), if you look closer, this “you or me” world is an illusion. The truth is, the world we live in is a “you and me” world, wherein if your end of the canoe tips over, we both end up in the water. Platt (2011) pointed out, “We live in a “you and me” world which we’re erroneously running according to the rules of a “you or me” world.” This explains a lot why things are not working as well as they are designed to work. You cannot say there is “plenty and enough for everyone” when everyone else follows a “winner takes all” attitude. In a “you and me” world, workability is grounded in the experience and the realization of who each of us really are (our beings).
Van den Broek (2010) discussed about how the recent financial crisis was partly due to the leaders’ abuse of their power for self-interest. Leaders are responsible for promoting the welfare of their followers. However, instead of employing their power for the greater good, leaders are tempted to use it instead for self-serving ways, wherein only their welfares will be served. In order to achieve the goals of the group, leaders are given power and as a result, group members have to surrender some of their own power.
This is the power balance that leadership creates in a “you or me” world. Group members will try to keep the power gap as small as possible, while leaders intend to maintain or increase the said power gap. Sometimes, leaders go over board and those kinds of leaders are the ones we label as “power corrupt.” What must we do in order to work against power corrupts? A stable system in which leaders are secure but accountable could provide a favorable context for group success. Changing the hierarchy within the group can also improve the chances of group success. Hierarchy in groups should be as flat as possible and power must be distributed amongst individuals.
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