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The Chimera Principle

On April 10, 2010, in Leadership principles, by Neculai Fantanaru

Don't you think you are a leader if you get to lead people.

The people who are wise are always very calculated in thinking and action, take good decisions and are very careful in everything they do. But I, dare I say, didn't prove to be very wise that day.

I was in the mountains with my friends. We had organized a paintball game in the woods. We split up in two teams, teams that had no leaders. So I, with an indescribable joy, driven by an insatiable thirst for adventure and a formidable desire for sensational, self-proclaimed myself leader in the team I was appointed in after the draw. “Follow me”, I said in my mind, and my burning heart repeated that I would be able to push my team to victory.

But right from the first moment, after the action started, I made the unforgivable mistake. Without thinking, without having the patience and taking the most advantageous decision, inflamed with a state of exultation beyond compare, as nobody and nothing could have scared me, I burst fiercely the first in the middle of the battle, right when the enemy dispersed. Thus, I completely ignored the most important rule of war: during battle, especially in a moment of danger, the leader of the army must be protected. He must stand behind the front line, not go in the first line of attack, as the battle plan was in his mind.

First target, first hit

Well, because of that feeling of selfish joy, I drove myself to failure. For two minutes, I was shrouded by a rain of paint balls. I was lucky enough not to be hit by all of them. Until my teammates fired back, who were, at that moment, at about ten meters behind me, I was the preferred and perfect target of the opponents. The tree with the not too thick trunk behind which I hid myself was full of paint.

Not for a second have I thought something like that could happen to me, I had a false sense of security. And because of my failing judgment, my team lost. For nothing have I considered myself suited to be a leader, since the results were very weak, under any expectations. All my teammates, who, first, might have given me their trust, more ore less, were disappointed by my performance in the end.

My position as a leader wasn't precisely recognized

Vested with my loyalty towards the other team mates and instinct with the firm belief that I would be the man of the day, I only took advice from myself and nobody else in as how to proceed, this was the first wrong step. Then I started the attack with a rebel spirit, just like a kamikaze in a suicide mission who pitches with all his power, all his speed, his entire being and, for everybody's surprise, directly to the strong points of the enemy.

But I didn't make any convention with the members of my team and I didn't present them any plan of action, as I should have normally done and, therefore, my position as a leader wasn't previously, precisely and undeniably, recognized, as it was only tacitly accepted. In eloquent and truly sincere words, nobody on my team ever requested my support and I tried to come to their aid from my own initiative, putting my will at a pretty harsh test.

As a leader, you are responsible for your actions and decisions

Being one step ahead of people doesn't make you a leader. You cannot make people to follow you and help you fulfill your vision, by their own will, giving their full trust if, by wanting to be on a dominant position, you are the first to stumble when facing an obstacle.

On the contrary, you will be overshadowed by a deep sorrow because you haven't met the expectations and then they will feel the same for having lost. If you give them right from the start the support and devotion, either you care a lot for them and wish them as many successes as possible, either because you are driven only by your interest, either because a ridiculous, immense pride makes you insist on gaining the victory with any price - you will be able to win their respect, their attachment and, thus, you will be very certain that they will contribute to achieving the goal you have proposed. But they will follow you open-heartedly only if you lead them to victory.

A team without a leader has no power

A team without a leader is alone, powerless. Who will its members get the help they expect with so much impatience, happiness, ardor, if you alone put yourself in danger in the most critical moments and fail?

If you are a manager and because of your wrong, emotion, desire, subjectivism driven and not rational decisions, the company gets to go bankrupt, all the employees will lose their moral and financial support. Instead of being seen as their only protector, their only support, a sure guide, worthy of being followed, you will seem to them as a useless burden, a rushed hero because of whom the entire company will suffer.

So, you have no reason to call yourself a leader. If you don't give people real reasons to trust you, you'll be just a person with good intentions, under no circumstance a giver of hope.

A leader must be recognized by those on his team by his preceding acts. Calling yourself a leader, even if you are one step ahead of the others, proves an absolute trust in your forces, which results from a subjective, superficial overrating, which will inevitably lead you to failure.

P.S. A leader without a team is the same as the team without a leader.


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