The Need To Lead

A few years ago now on a summer weekend afternoon, I had a conversation with my girlfriend at the time, Charlene, that has stuck in my head quite a bit over recent years. We had made plans to spend the day together, and she had just arrived outside my condo for the two of us to go off on our adventure.

She asked me “So, where do you want to go ?”

Having only lived in my current city for about a year I replied “I don’t know this area very well, why don’t you take me somewhere ?”

She was stunned a bit for a second then said “You know, I don’t think I have ever been asked that before, everyone always takes me everywhere.”

Batman Must Always Lead

After a bit of thinking, Charlene took me on an amazing tour of the area, including two wonderful lakes, one of which had a huge sand building competition on it that day, which Charlene had already been aware of, and the other had a great cliff side view of the surrounding forest and lake which we first ate lunch at, and then hiked down for a private swim. After we hiked back up to the car she then took me to a great restaurant for dinner where we stayed for several hours afterwords to drink beer and listen to the live blues band.

I found it quite amazing that no one had ever asked Charlene in all her thirty years of living in the same area, where she wanted to go. This though of course was of great benefit to me, because by her sitting in the passenger seat all these years, she had collected a huge knowledge of good things to do, and the best of it all this knowledge had been delivered to me on this day. Needless to say I wanted to see more the next time she came over, and she had more than a few days of things for us to do that were of great interest, all of which I added to my own list of things to do in the area when people visited me from out of town.

I wondered a bit more to myself why no one had ever asked her before what she wanted to do, she was often quiet, but quite obviously bright. I am guessing it was mostly because in groups there is usually that one person that really feels the need to lead everyone all the time, and that was just not the way she was. Usually those that force themselves on us as the leader are a type “A” personality, and Charlene was defiantly not one of these.

Funny Leadership

Now don’t get me wrong, leadership is a wonderful thing, and necessary if you want to get things done efficiently, you need a leader. I lead my household around most of the time, but not always, and I also lead my employees, but feeling the need to be leading everyone around all of the time, is a massive weakness of personality in my books.

In my opinion, constant leaders usually have the least knowledge of anyone in the group, as all of their less than vast knowledge is quickly shared to the masses who usually, due to their ability to sometimes follow, both individually and collectively know more. So if you yourself feel the need to lead constantly, you might want to consider taking a back seat sometimes to let a more knowledgeable person show you around, that way when you do take control, people won’t always be quietly wishing they were somewhere else.

12 Responses to The Need To Lead

  1. Great article, PB, and an interesting perspective on leadership. Being large-and-in-charge all the time is an agenda I can do without, although I have no problem taking charge when needed (especially at work). People who like to lead often seem to be filling a void of some sort, ways in which they feel weak or vulnerable. A good leader, in my opinion, is someone who leads by consensus and enlists participation from the group.

  2. @Helena Fortissima
    Hi Helena,

    I also think people trying to lead all the time are trying to fill some void, it is almost as if they are trying to prove they are great, and show themselves to other people because they are secretly unsure of themselves. It doesn’t make them a bad person, but it can get annoying.

  3. Love the last sentence, PBS. Nothing worse than spending time with a control freak, someone who’s not open to any plan or suggestion other than their own. I don’t fall into the leader or follower category, but I love sharing my enthusiams and interests with others, and having them share in return. It broadens one’s pleasures and one’s reality enormously.

  4. @nothingprofound
    Thanks NP,

    Yes nothing worse than spending too much time with a control freak, as they think they are being so awesome, others might be feeling the opposite.

    People should be leading by consensus in my opinion, all parties involved are spending their equally precious time together, and sometimes a quick debate and vote might be what is needed.

  5. I don’t mind taking a back seat most of the time, but sometimes when nothing is moving and there is no direction, I will take the lead in order to at least make a start, then someone else can take over.

    I must admit, I do like things to be organised in some way, as I get very frustrated when either everyone is trying to lead which causes confusion, or nobody is leading and we’re twiddling our thumbs.

  6. @Rum Punch Drunk
    Hi Rum Punch Drunk,

    Yes someone really does need to lead in most situations, as a group of followers will generally sit around and just look for a leader rather than do anything, and in those circumstances someone needs to step forward, thankfully though usually when a follower steps forward he has some idea what he is doing.

  7. This is a great piece precisely because it’s something I’ve never considered before. I’m probably a bit of a stick-in-the-mud in that I feel comfortable with the familiar, but if, as in the situation you describe, I’m with someone who knows more about a place, then I’m more than happy to go with their suggestions.

    The only time when I do take the lead is with friends visiting Hong Kong, who expect me to show them the best places to go to and the best things to do (which invariably involves things the average tourist never gets to see or do).

  8. @Dennis Hodgson
    Thank you Dennis, it is something I really had not though of myself until this happened to me. I also pretty much expect to take the reigns when people visit me from out of town, but with some of these constant leader types I have found it far too difficult to do.

  9. Interesting perspective. I think if you’re a good leader, you draw from the knowledge of those around you and allow others to show their strengths in given situations. Those bent on domination are not really leaders to me. Just petty dictators.

  10. @Janene
    Excellent statement Janene
    “Those bent on domination are not really leaders to me. Just petty dictators.”

  11. In most cases I find myself just tagging along to where people want to go. I’m usually more pro active when it comes to work or other stuff, but when it comes to going places, I find that I really just don’t mind. When it comes to leisure, I’m more than happy to let someone else do the leading.

  12. @William T. Co
    That sounds like a really good way to be, if neither money nor your life is on the line, and the goal is simply just to have fun, trying to control and direct the fun is not usually going to get you to your goal any faster.

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