The Weakness of Leading From the Front Part 1

This entry is part 4 of 10 in the series Understanding Great Leadership

Leading from the Front has Traps and Pitfalls.

The opposite of the Monarchistic Dictator Super Boss and part time executioner is the Messiah or the bringer of hope, the prophet or in more corporate speak the visionary.  Now this might sound a bit to spiritual but it isn’t really. The bringing of hope, adventure and exciting possibilities has always been at the very heart of all the greatest social, religious and corporate movements throughout history.  The only difference is that the object of the Messiah brings with it religious ideology, which in today’s society has been particularly besmirched by fundamentalism.  On the other hand if we take out the religious then the bringer of hope has and always will resonate with that singular virtue of humanity, aspiration.

The Power of The Visionary is the Power to Engender Hope

Why does the visionary have so much power over our desire to follow you might ask?  Well the answer is simple enough; the human species loves to aspire to better things and anyone who offers the hope of a better life is already ahead on the attractiveness scale. But the central reason the bringing of a better future is more effective than monarchistic/dictatorship rule is because the vision inspires hope and hope inspires engagement.

Vision is More Efficient

Vision is more efficient for a lot of reasons.  Here’s a couple to ponder.  The Vis (Visionary for short) doesn’t have to waste time, energy and resources coercing and compelling engagement. To inspire people to put their brains to the task of realising the vision all the Vis has to do is just come up with a brilliant vision that the followers can see working and then show them how to work it.  It does of course help if you’ve done the due diligence and come up with an idea that actually can work and you’ve done a chunk of user testing first.  But in short nothing engages people more than a brilliant idea that they can be a part of.

Here’s a Quick Summary of the Advantages of The Visionary Leader

  1. It’s more exciting
  2. It attracts willing engagement with words and pictures not through coercion and intimidation
  3. It taps into the humans innate desire to aspire
  4. It attracts the investment of initiative and collective genius
  5. Therefore it’s more efficient and effective

The list of advantages is rather large. These are just a few of the more obvious benefits of the visionary leader.

Now the Not So Good News

Whilst leading from the front with hope and inspiration is more efficient than pushing from the back with a big stick it still has some inbuilt problems you need to be aware of if you are going to avoid falling into the trap of the lame duck leader of worse the leader who leads their people to no place good.

Idealism/evangelism and zealotry.  When the Illusion of Nirvana distorts the day to day running of reality you have a major problem brewing.  Even in business we look to those who innovate and show the way forward.    The trick with bringing hope and inspiration is to make sure the message you bring has the legs to go the distance.  What’s more that it has the power to last and it satisfies the greater good.  Your message has enough value for the followers that they will invest in it.

Adolf Hitler brought hope to the German people but unfortunately for Germany and the rest of the world his vision was significantly dysfunctional, most would say really, really bad.  It had at its heart the suppression of the entire world under the capricious rule of AH himself.

This by all accounting and corporate analysis methodologies is a monstrously inefficient intention. Apart from the fact that it’s seriously wrong it by it’s very nature and design couldn’t possibly work long medium to long term because it would collapse under the weight of it’s own inefficiencies.

You see whilst he had a well articulated vision, there were a number of features to it that not only were repugnant but were also gigantically problematic and wasteful.  Having to police the actions of those he lead;  to the extent that they fit into a machine like state meant you would have to use exhaustive amounts of resources to keep people in line. The very nature of fascism of course is hierarchical with by default denies the aspirations of the greater part of the population. History shows us time and time again that denying the aspiration of a person for a better life always ends with social or corporate unrest and discontent.  At worse it can lead to complete disengagement of those who are left out in the cold.  The result being no one is motivated to produce, achieve, aspire, invent.

In the Next Post

We are going to look at some of the more common traps of the visionary, bringer of hope kind of leader.  For now it’s enough to understand that the visionary has the potential to be a far more effective leader than the Monarchistic Dictator.  But being visionary in and of itself isn’t enough. Remember there are examples where centralised governments with a lot of power do work.  What’s more trying to lead by playing from the middle isn’t going to be the best option either.   Something more dynamic and sophisticated is necessary.

Just a few things to think about






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