This week I’m writing about leadership. I suspect I’m not the only one uninspired by the people in power. I’m asking why that is and what we can do about it.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Read time – 5 minutes
The world is in a crisis of leadership. The French roll their eyes at Macron. The Canadian’s lament over Trudeau. The Czech PM’s under investigation for fraud. The US just endured four years of arguably the worst President of all time. And the UK consistently disapproves of Downing Street.
So what’s going on? Why does the world feel so disillusioned with its political leaders? And what can we do about it?
Politicians come from a small group of often very wealthy people. When you consistently select from such a small sample, you inevitably get a narrow spectrum of ideas and opinions. It’s difficult for someone who went to Eaton University then into Westminster to identify with a single mother working two jobs to survive. And when you can’t identify with someone, you’re not going to enact useful, positive change on their behalf.
Donald Trump was meant to buck this trend. He was an outsider, there to “drain the swamp” and wrestle back the American system for the people. But that didn’t happen. If anything he gave more power to large corporations and directed public anger towards poor people and immigrants. In hindsight, it was somewhat unsurprising a billionaire didn’t take on the billionaires.
Even when populations pick the candidate of change, no change happens. We’re left feeling frustrated and tired instead of hopeful and encouraged.
However, one group of leaders have excelled during the COVID pandemic – women.
Angela Merkel, Nicola Sturgeon and Jacinda Ardern have conducted themselves with poise and grace. While Boris Johnson was telling Britain to take Coronavirus “on the chin”, Jacinda Ardern was telling Kiwis one death was too many. While Matt Hancock was refusing to apologise for breaking the law, Nicola Sturgeon was admitting she’d made mistakes and was sorry.
Much of the bloodbath that is human history can be put down to male ego’s crashing against one another. The same patterns played out over the past year. Men like Trump, Johnston and Bolsonaro were too proud to admit they’d made blunders. This led to hundreds of thousands of deaths. Women’s capacity to work together, be vulnerable and look after people led to proactive and effective responses to Coronavirus.
As well as cultural change, the internet allows us to choose our own, better leaders. People such as Joe Rogan, Brene Brown, Jocko Willink and Oprah* have a platform online where they can share ideas and lead by example. Billions of people now tune into podcasts from some of the best leaders on the planet.
*Somewhat pre-internet but I first heard her ideas on her Super Soul podcast.
The other cool thing about the internet is that it forces us to recognise our own role as leaders.
You’re a leader to your friends, to your siblings, in your school or workplace. The content you share on social media leads your followers to new ideas. When you live with integrity, show kindness and spread love, you’re leading at the highest level possible – by example. We’re all leaders whether we like it or not, and it’s a responsibility we should take seriously.
So let’s think carefully about how we lead and who we follow. Think about how you conduct yourself in public and online; because the world is watching. And maybe, just maybe, if we all take our responsibility as leaders more seriously, our politicians will too.
Here are a few leaders I follow, trust, and believe in.
Joe Rogan – I know, I know. I recommend Rogan pretty much every week. But I do believe he’s one of the greatest leaders alive today. You can’t have the biggest podcast in the world (without advertising it), and not speak truth. He’s flawed like everyone, but he recognises his errors and works to improve himself. He’s a leader worth following.
Brenè Brown – Brenè is a deeply inspiring woman. She’s a researcher of courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy, and is the host of the Dare to Lead podcast and Unlocking Us. Her most recent episode, Armoured Leadership pt. 1, is a masterclass. Check out Brene and give her a follow, she’s awesome.
Tim Ferriss – Tim’s podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show is a goldmine. He’s managed to bring together many of the greatest leaders on the planet, from sports to business to technology, and picks apart what makes them great. Here’s a list of his top 10 podcasts of all time.
Other honourable mentions – Russel Brand, Oprah Winfrey, Jocko Willink, Seth Godin, Esther Perel, David Goggins, Chris Ryan, James Clear and Lex Fridman. Mostly men I know, but I think we all gravitate towards leaders of our own gender.
The Gifts of Imperfection – Brenè Brown – I finished this audiobook during the week and learned a lot. Definitely worth adding to the reading list.
Tribe of Mentors – Tim Ferriss – Tim has filled this book with advice from some of the sharpest minds on the planet. He asks them similar questions such as “What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?”. Answers from people like Bear Grylls and Yuval Noah Harari are fascinating.
Extreme Ownership – Jocko Willink is a retired Navy SEAL. His book is about leadership in combat – where strong leaders are the difference between life and death.
Jocko’s Ted Talk – Extreme Ownership. He discusses where and when leaders shine through. Cool watch.
Simon Sinek on Leadership – Simon Sinek wrote the book Start With Why and Leaders Eat Last – both highly regarded. This is a beautiful youtube video on love and service.
The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly. — Jim Rohn
Where are you leading your followers?
Thank you for reading my writing.
What did you think? Are you disillusioned by leaders like Boris Johnston, or are you happy with how they operate? Please share your ideas and insights. I learn so much when you guys express your opinions.
I’ve been thinking about creating a FB group where Ross Blog readers can discuss things I’ve written about in the Patterson Post. If you’d like to be added let me know.
And that’s now 20 Patterson Posts! I’m quite proud of myself I won’t lie. I’ve always struggled with consistency, so I’m giving myself a pat on the back.
There will be more than a week between now and the next PP because I’m changing the format a bit. The Patterson Post #21 will be a video. The subject will be On Running.
Thanks again. I appreciate the fuck out of all of you.