On Leadership

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There are many types of people in this world when you look at status between individuals and how they rate themselves and other people, but when you break them down to their lowest common denominators people generally fall into one of two groups: leaders and followers. We all know the mentality of the follower, the person that finds it easier to blend in, to go with the crowd, or to not show anything special about themself at all in order to gain acceptance. The person who acquires self-esteem as they acquire friends and loses it as they lose friends. But what is the mentality of the leader? Is the leadership that so many people respect for the sole reason that it's there worthy of the respect?

Leaders can be split into two groups, the leaders that play to the strengths of their followers and the leaders that play to the weakness of their followers. Leaders of the former variety are people such as, of course, John Galt. They are hard to come by in this world, and their followers are really usually followers by virtue of being already of like mind. The latter of the types of leaders are types such as Ellsworth Toohey, Adolf Hitler, Stalin, and nearly any leader with large amounts of followers to his name. The essence of the relationship between these two types of leaders can be summed up using a line from the film 300 when Xerxes said,

Cruel Leonidas demanded that you stand. I require only that you kneel.

Leonidas and the Spartans in many ways represented the relationship between the leader by strength and mutual respect. He led few, he led the best, and in the end his army, eliminating traitors, was the stronger and better in spite of all his disadvantages. Xerxes is the very caricature of a Stalin, Hitler, and men like Jim Jones. Xerxes, in the movie, ruled by fore, mysticism, collectivism, and fear.

So are the leaders that lead by force, mysticism, fear, and collectivism worth of respect? The people that come to power by convincing all around them of deficiency? Of course not. They have ceased to be leading anything at all. This is what Rand meant in We the Living when Kira said that if you add up a bunch of 0's that it still comes to nothing. Leaders such as those lead by reducing the worth those they lead to nothing, by making every person they lead a mirror of themselves so that, in the end, they are just leading themselves. All that is required is to convince a person that they have no value, and really, your average high schooler can do that.

So is a great leader worthy of respect by nature of being a leader? Of course not. It's not how many they lead and how much fervor they can whip up for their cause, the measure of a leader is who they lead, the quality of that man, and the respect that they can earn from the best of those they lead.

Edited by Jeff Kremer
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