Leadership in an Era of Leaderless Pretension - 1

News & SocietyPolitics

  • Author Randy Gonzalez
  • Published April 14, 2021
  • Word count 3,409

In numerous corporate, governmental and collegiate forums, seminars and workshops across the U.S. nation, hope springs eternal in the elusive hunt for leadership. Who represents it in a realistic portrayal or ideal role model? What does such a term mean? Where in the real world is it applied? When does such a manifestation arise? How does such a characterization evolve? Lastly, why is such a personification necessary? At the onset of a typical collective of contrived consensuses on the topic of “leadership”, definitional criteria confound and confuses the efficacy of specificity. Defining and accepting the status quo of believability, usually depends on the context of the intention behind a particular forum. A training instigation may dictate the parameters by which such leader-oriented specifications are to eventually serve as application.

Simultaneously, reality haunts the shadowy realms of psychodynamic considerations and subsequent explanations. In regard to the aforementioned onset of attempts of communal collectivism to specify a delineation, an argument ensues. This is the basis for speculative assertions as to whether or not a consensus context taints the reality of the very idea of leadership. A basic point of dictionary reference says “leadership” is the office or position of a leader. This of course, to the insightful inquisitor says essentially nothing of substantive value. It’s a red herring so to speak. Now, the inquirer with hopefully an open mind, and some well-grounded educational background, plus actual life experience, must go deeper. On a primordial amative human level, large numbers of seemingly sentient beings occupy various offices or positions that might be inferred as places of “leadership”. Yet, reality haunts such superficiality.

As such, previously, several investigative questions offered further prospects for additional inquiry, which means delving to the depths of profound meaning. Such a quest is left up to the investigator for him or her to draw final conclusions. Meanwhile, at the local collegiate forum, attempting to motivate and inspire younglings, defining the scope of “leadership” calls upon numerous assumptions. Basic definitive claims, coming close to the supernatural realm of unexplained phenomenon, visits the mysterious notion that leadership infers the capacity to lead. That in turn cloaks the mythological notion of presupposed potentiality to make things happen. Add to that, the further claim, again of dictionary notoriety, asserting the act or instance of leading. From this, seemingly there flows the persistence of something akin to guiding or directing or motivating people in an assortment of directions. Consistent confusion prevails.

Of that, consideration delves into the mystical realms of pretentious speculations to egregious misconceptions. All of which, depending on the locale, culture, environment and context, potentially fosters a diversity of opinion. In addition, contingent upon experiential capacity, adherents of one view point or another may significantly differ in interpretation. For instance, in the reality of ongoing societal interaction, probability of conflict and contention, interactivity expresses competing interests. As each inhabitant of the discourse brings different levels of experience, education, training, background, maturity as well as immaturity, conceptualizing what leadership means becomes complicated. An example includes the typical interaction between public services personnel, like first responders, and non-practitioner academics.

In this writing, the perspective on leadership in an era of leaderless pretensions refers to leading in a realm of intense interpersonal contact. Within these frameworks, leaders emerge from the “school of hard knocks”, where maturity, learning and wisdom come from years of serious interaction with others. This includes primarily those environments that concern the safety and security of the public and properties of others. These are the theaters of first responders, the military and private security practitioners who ensure others are protected to every extent possible. From these ranks, arise an authenticity of well-differentiated individuals who are remarkably different from managers and supervisors. In contrast to those realms of profit continuity, consumptive oriented marketing, professional athletics, Hollywood celebrities, or political ascendency, the world of public service expresses a different conception of leadership.

Perhaps, in this regard, there are at least potentially five types of alleged leadership. These might tentatively include: academia, corporate, political, celebrity and public safety services. All of which is debatable and philosophical at best. Nonetheless, the focus here is on those who put themselves in harm’s way for others in selfless sacrifice. Among these a few rises to the noble ascensions of what might be characterized as leadership. At its basic core, reflecting those who defend community and country, took an oath of office to do so, and put “skin in the game”, leadership is a courageous activity of influencing others in positive ways. Of that special positivity for transforming creativity, the leader expresses purpose, direction and motivational means to accomplish the mission of the organizational structure. The process is neither by antagonism nor patronizing condescension. Instead, a leader is one who leads from the front by exhibiting the ethics and professionalism of competence and capability. She or he shows the way, rather than points the way. In the post-modern era, leaders are scarce breed of “warrior”.

In post-modern times of purposed wussification, escapist cowardly regressions and incessant infantile emotional reactivity, people cower at the mention of warriorhood. At the very core of psychodynamic personification of leadership is the essence of a warrior. Fear fosters the folly of retrenchment in the primal forsaking of ascending to higher realms of mature transformation. Leaders, by contrast, find their calling in the warriorhood of their quest. For this, rites of passage are essential in the foundation building of an individual adventure. To deny child-like selfishness and pursue self-evolution in differentiation for ascended transformation, requires exceptional courage. A common-sense focus on the necessity of trials and troubles in the maturation, pain and pleasure, losing and winning, are vital to the progression of the leadership process. Election, appointment or drafting to a particular office of life is not a designation of leadership. For a transitioning from infantile narcissism to mature sage, profound choices are made.

Meanwhile, as fortification of the “mind” against the contrived consensus of the many, willful assertion of independence challenges the foolishness of conventionality. In leadership, one years for the next challenge in order to learn another elemental component of differentiation. While responsibility haunts every willful thought into motion, accountability demands personal redress. Personal analysis by intensely rigorous introspection denounces the foolishness of immature whining, moaning, complaining and sniveling about predicament, situation or environment. Leaders learn to shun the trifling self-absorption of silly egoistic preoccupations. Among the wiser prospects of an evolving leadership capacity, is the eventual understanding of delving into the depths of the darkness within. To embrace the darkness is what a warrior does.

Lesser personalities, from the cowardice of easy hypocrisy and lazy superficiality, prefer the safe and secure mediocrity of status quo stasis. On the contrary, leaders are not satisfied with the motionless and redundant inertia of uncreative repetitiveness. For most, the stale dogmas of ideological oppression satiate the mundane familiarity of collective enslavement. Relying heavily on the intellectually impoverished contrived moral standards, many crave their acquiescence to rules that have no lawful viability. By neither rational consistency, social utility nor psychological efficacy, the vast reaches of infotainment manufacture contrived consensus to assert tyranny of dishonest moralities. From an admonition in the woods near a pond over a century ago, a determined sage pondered the relevance of obeying little and rebelling against much. Outside the parameters of duly constituted lawful constraints, no deviance exists and no rules apply, but for those by force of will does one subscribe. Leaders understand individual liberation.

Yet, the crowded confines of mainstream complicity stifle the very necessity rightful responsibility expressed in authentic accountability. As the audience relishes in the simplicity and superficiality of the momentary showmanship, the price of admission is the subservience to a cast of condescending normalcy. A contrived consensus of primal carnality to the detriment of a productively evolving amative creativity, the social script conspires communal sameness. For those who dwell in that sanctuary of wiser realms of maturation and personal liberation, the solemn solitude of authentic mindful innovation is an echo not often heard. The roar and chaos of the crowded assemblage deafens the divine spark of self-evolution beyond commonality. To strive to walk in blameless persistence of determined differentiation is to risk adversity. In an era of leaderless the pretensions, the spew of hollow rhetoric reflects the cowardice of the times.

Arguing the tireless climb out of the primordial ooze of devolving social disintegration, in spite of lofty arrogance in political masquerades, authentic leaders relentlessly pursue righteous endeavors. As such, cosmic complicity of human nature and nature’s universal unknowns, defy the woeful ignorance at feeble attempts to understand galactic mysteries. Foolishness often speaks with the subtle sleight of hand misdirection of pseudo-intellectual complicities. By contrast, leaders learn that many things cannot be answered, clearly understood, or easily solved in the vast puzzle of intricate planetary possibilities. On the other hand, many will believe anything, regardless of the facts, and most will resist any form of personal change. Comprehension of individual “divinely inspired creative evolution” is of a highly personal nature. For its nature and nurture, reflecting upon earlier writings of overcoming humanness, “super-heroic necessity”, or as one writer called it the “superman”, must rise above basic humanistic tendencies.

Overcoming the selfishness of the original person is a dangerous and daunting mission. Meanwhile, the trials and tribulations necessary to the leader learning process is overwhelmed by deceptive mass marketing. Transitioning by willful choices to higher states of individuality means, to become a more profoundly evolved personality requires self-sacrifice beyond what many can imagine. Most will not endure the harsh experiences of energetic expenditures in self-evolving transformation. Leadership stems from such experiential character construction learned in the real world of severe realities. However, for the weak, timid, and fainthearted, arrogantly ignorant “all knowing gurus” proselytize the simplicity of easy and comfortable answers. For such, there is nothing in the human timeline. As “snake oil salesman” have always been around, their disguises fool the foolish who fancy themselves pretentiously aware of such con artistry.

On the contrary, foolishness abounds in myriad forms in an era of leaderless pretensions. For the bravery of the few, those particularly outside public view, or mainstream info-edutainment, the “super-heroic” ideal appears as advertised on stage in cardboard templates of an assortment of celebrities. Typically, actors and entertainers of one sort or another, shallow personalities congregating in the assemblage of mass illusions, exact their magic upon an ill-informed audience. By masks of selfish promotion, for the fame and fortunate of personal dysfunction, the gurus of luminary adoration perpetuate the commercialized enslavement of the public. With few exceptions, and that means extremely few, there is little or no leadership expressed in these spheres. To look here for role models is to search for something not found. In the cult of celebrity worship, whether entertainment, politics or sports, leaderless pretensions abound.

Ancient wisdom, long forgotten, seldom passed on to the younglings, forbids the acquaintance with those whose motives are cowardly inclined. Yet, of the post-modern zeal for “selfie” recognition and praised immediate gratification, the pablum of thumbing sucking children in adult bodies bears no reality to the true heroism of those who labor to higher realms. For leaders, who risk the wrath of tentative followers, adherents, collaborators, associates or colleagues, due to their purposed differentiation, the bravery cannot be fully appreciated. As serious responsibility lingers and demands an accounting in subsequent judgement of whatever tribunal, life or death or otherwise, the leader holds fast to his or her deliberations. Proof is the persistent courage to do what is right no matter the repercussions or the animosity of the weak and spineless. Leaders do not suck up, grovel, snivel in self-pity, or whine with scapegoating cowardice.

In the tradition of the warrior, the precepts of martial principles, fearlessness to overcome fear and assert the personality of exceptional creativity resides in the freewill potency of individuality. Where it hurts, the pain must be experienced. Mind, body and essence, or spirit or energy, whatever the individual perceives in terms of personal belief system, contends with the dynamic nature of self-revelation. Harmonizing the inner strengths to face the mirrored reflection of weaknesses, embracing the darkness, and generating personal power to prevail is of valiant measure. In a more generic or basic sense, every now and then a “gunfight” is necessary. Now, for those who are frightened and the very mention of the word “gun”, the suggestion here is not literal. Although when it comes to self-defense in the real-world, such could be the reality. Nonetheless, and American wussification aside for the moment, the proverbial “gunfight” at “high noon”, or the confrontation at the “O.K. Corral”, is metaphorical in confronting fearful things.

Discourse on the necessity of conflict to assist in personal self-evolution is a diverse matter of discourse. That aside, it remains fascinating when a group gets together to discuss the conceptual framework of leadership. Conversation varies depending upon individual viewpoints, experiences, education, and so forth. Generational diversity additionally plays into the context of the dialogue. A number of personal complexities, personal transformation, and maturation level come to bear. Wiser and more weighty comprehension of leadership are incumbent upon the competency of individual differentiation. Like the proverbial loosely ascribed analogy of the “gunfight”, as each is changing or devolving by their own instigation, engagement with life’s challenges is crucial to the foundation building process for leadership. In experiencing the vast diversity of social interactivity, leaders invigorate themselves through the hardships. For each different journey, quest or adventure, the perceptual configuration becomes unique.

Exposure to the harsh realities of interacting with other humans, especially in moments of sheer terror, is crucial to personal learning and private introspection. Diverting for a moment to the wonderland and never-never land of academia, seminars on leadership are fascinating observations in the study of people. Of particular captivating reflections are those moments where generational younglings attempt to “teach” the veteran elders about life. What fun that can be from a sinister perspective. As one would say in the American south, bless their little hearts. How precious that is coming from a child-like perspective, absent the terroristic experiences of intense maturation. And, in post-modern western cultures, particularly in the U.S. the social devolution in terms of profound cultural “wussification” enforces condescending and divisive recriminations.

With regard to the public safety arena, less than 1% of the population endanger themselves to serve others in the realm of law enforcement. Adding to that, depending on the references used, about 5% to 7% of all living Americans have ever served their country in the U.S. armed forces. Such calling or interest in the dangers of public service become the foundational processes toward building a leadership-oriented character. To extrapolate further, provisionally this suggests less than 10% embrace the call to public safety and security services in defense of country and community. So, at this juncture, the passion for selfless service is contingent upon individually willed motivation to purse more profound rites of passage. Within this sphere, serving others in the competence of leadership dwells in these enclaves of dedicated constabulary. Exhibitions of such leader potential in a leaderless society rises among those who endeavor to protect others. And, every day, without complaint or remorse, many take on such tasks.

Leadership in an era of leaderless pretensions offers the serious probability for a few to ascend to the higher possibilities of personal transformation. While cowardice, hypocrisy and incompetence pillage the social mainstream, social media, infotainment and political processes, the likelihood of societal collapse hastens human extinction. But for the few, the valiant ones who keep watch over their personal transformation, ascendency to those greater realms of individuality remains in steadfast perseverance. As con artists come and go, and gurus of every stalking leer perpetrate misdirection, the dedicated warriors of exceptional leadership capacity focus on personal liberation. For the courage to resist the temptations of commonality in status quo banality, the knight persists in his or her quest to overcome the fears, the doubts and foolish simplicity of ignorance in normalcy. Embracing the divine potentiality of profound individuation, he or she, or whatever one chooses to be, refuses to cower in the presence of conflicting darkness.

Early on, leaders learn that two potent forces, contrived by others with cunning legerdemain, present experiential efficacy or denial of potency. Of these, philosophers mention the fear of death and fear of living a life worth living. Of particular contravention to productive intentions comes in the myriad and deceptive forms that threaten individual psycho dynamics. As some postulates in times past, the “psycho-death” is debility to many, and encourages the loss of identity and submission to communal conformity. For the vast majority, powerlessness is preferred by unity in the herd. Crowded fondness for the commonality of safe mediocrity in the status quo overshadows and satiates the spinelessness within. Yet, safety in numbers is not always safe.

In the normalcy of sameness, significant numbers of people embrace the perpetual consistency of the status quo, even to the detriment of their individuality. To this, the leader has additional energies to expend in the inspiration of those who would shrink from their uniqueness. Cowardice, hypocrisy and the dullness of commonality continues to confront and censor efforts to self-evolve. In the process of individuation, the leader continues his or her ascension to higher levels of personal transformation. Changing oneself is of the utmost essentiality. All too frequently, so many reside in the dead zone of inarticulate and woefully deficient realms of lethargic apathy. In this willful collective, or as some call it, the hive, leadership strives to encourage exceptionality and profound unfolding differentiation. While ignorance is bliss in the “collective consciousness” of voluntary mediocre entrenchment, leaders work diligently to foster extraordinarily innovative processes. On a smaller minded and meaner level, albeit jealous and adversely projective, most salacious desire others to reflect their shortcomings and biases.

Of this foolishness, the primordial carnality for unevolving regressions is debasingly rife throughout the social mainstream of American society. In a society that values “normalcy” over individuality and creativity, the expectation of social advancement is limited. Of that demeaning superficiality, abnormal in a broader spectrum of group consensus becomes the “normal”. Examples are everywhere. Mainstream “news” sources, as well as social media are widespread with the divisiveness of condescending invective. Rumor, gossip and opinion fall into a more salacious expression of fiction as fact. Viciously, the transition trumpets the inventiveness at any given moment if the collectivist sensitivity becomes threatened. Effective and bold leadership endangers such stability. For the leader, he or she recognizes the necessity of constant vigilance in order to guard against the forceful oppression of “herd thinking”. Sometimes the clues surface in the consensus building rhetoric of “celebrity training sessions”.

One online lecture series poses a conjecture as to whether or not commonplace familiarity has become a sickness of sorts. Whereby, as the commentary expresses the admonitions of herded or crowded adherents in the assemblies of deception, ignorance and hypocrisy. On the other hand, maybe all of that is one in the same sense of foolish irony in a collapsing society. Whereas, in the corruption of the mainstream by devolving idiocy of less vibrant cerebral capacity, the many decry the differentiation of the few. For most people, such incursions are a complex mixture of slow indoctrination into conventional collective of behavioral centralities. For this, the meaning of “normal”, that is follower, adherent, devotee or fan, is particularly relevant in a post-modern human species on the brink of an apocalypse. While some may argue the relative nature of intentional conformity, dependent on a number of factors in a given locale, a common thread is citied as to the intent to conform to the “greater good”.

To be a conformist is to submit or otherwise surrender to the status quo. This means the purposeful adherence to the dominant perspectives of the surrounding human environment, and embracing the associated belief systems. From celebrity worship to guru submission, across the various institutional and social frameworks, the admonition is typically in favor of the collective, the hive, or the flock. As the mainstream infotainment networks promote alleged “leaders”, the posture of “leader” devolves to less than desirable characterizations. As such, leadership in an era of leaderless pretensions degrades to a lower descent than that historically conceived as a heroic ideal. Leadership expressed by leaders is among a smaller group of brave individuals. On the national scale, there are fewer among such personalities referred to as leaders.

Randy Gonzalez is a retired law enforcement executive with over 35 years public service experience; he is also a college professor of criminology and a multi-genre published author.

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