Leaders are overrated; and the myth of one-man rule

Photo courtesy of Sonic Suicide on Soundcloud

Some people still say the solution to the Philippines’ problems is choosing the right leader. That’s the very mindset that led the country down to the dumps.

The problem is that leaders are treated as a “silver bullet” or quick do-it-all solution. Filipinos believe that the leader will do everything for them, including clearing the nation of corruption. This is their Juan Tamad nature at work.

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People who insist on choosing the right leader are often either the promoters of propaganda and long-time fallacies that have been used throughout history to dupe people, or are themselves duped.

The shills will often promote their own leader as the right leader for all. They will warn you against “bad leaders,” insisting that these are the cause of society’s downfall. They will also attack these supposed “bad leaders” (who are actually just their competition), even if these are actually more qualified or are doing something right. Some even name business leaders as proof that there is such a thing as a right leader, such as Jack Welch or Steve Jobs. I will however puncture that balloon later.

One source of the problem, as I attacked in an earlier article, is the idea that are “born” leaders. All they need is figure out who the born leader is, then support them and all will be well. If they found they got the wrong leader, just oust and oust until they get the “right” or “born” leader.

As reality has demonstrated, that’s not how it works. Leadership and character are not inborn traits; they are learned.

Let me recall another point in another earlier article: Leaders never do it alone. There are always the henchmen. That’s why I believe the idea of “one-man rule” is ridiculous and never was true. It is doubtful Ferdinand Marcos went out and killed people himself. He gave orders and the other people did it. It’s funny how many people keep on screaming against Marcos and say little to nothing against the people, who were formerly under Marcos’ command, who actually killed others (and who were also retained!).

In fact, it has been suggested that henchmen are the actual ones in control of the country. If corruption is to be eliminated from the country, there are a lot to take out, not just the Marcoses.

So successful leaders aren’t the only source of success in companies; “henchmen” are also a part of it. Jack Welch could not have made his plans for General Electric successful without willing “henchmen” in the company. Steve Jobs could not have made Apple successful without Steve Wozniak and other people, including investors. Saying leaders are single-handedly responsible for success is a huge exaggeration.

This talk about leaders is relevant for the recent martial law anniversary. The wokes (including the opposition) who scream “never forget martial law” and similar that were probably the types who’d thought, we got the wrong leader, so oust him and we’ll get a new one. The problem is, the new one did the same thing (Mendiola massacre). Regime change didn’t – and really doesn’t – bring any change to society at all.

That also should have broken the harebrained impression that Marcos is the source of all things evil and getting rid of it will make the country all good. Today, Marcos is long gone, but murders, disappearances and all manner of heinous crimes still happen. The Marcos family having some power right now doesn’t count. Other people do evil acts by themselves without their influence.

The wokes also scream Marcos this, Marcos that. In a way, it is an admission of defeat because they show by screaming at a dead body that they are unable to take down the corrupt who are still living. I also wonder if they’ve screamed at the commies who also murder a lot of people and take “revolutionary taxes” from people and businesses in the country.

If the behavior of even “little leaders” in barangays (like the enforcers who beat up a vendor in Manila), local governments and even private sector situations including hobby groups shows, the problem is not leaders, but culture. The corrupt behavior that Filipinos manifest whether as leaders or constituents is a product of culture.

Filipinos often like to suck up to “leaders” because they are expecting dole-outs. Filipinos in positions often like to steal from the resources entrusted to them. Filipinos want impunity from the consequences of their actions because they are “kawawa” or pitiful. Filipinos when presented with a chance to exploit someone helpless, like a little kid, a lonely lady or a frail old person, will go in for the kill. All of this is part of our country’s culture, as in the actual practice of people.

This is why, aside from my point that the country will not benefit from the “right” leaders, the country was not brought down by bad leaders. It was brought down by bad culture.

If we want to get rid of corruption – as well as choices of bad leaders – change in the culture, right down to the grassroots, needs to be done.

We don’t need the “right” leaders or any other such bozos. People just need to shape their own lives up. They should be responsible for themselves and not dump responsibility on their “leader.” Filipinos need to accept that “ayuda” or dole-outs is not an entitlement or right. These are important parts of culture change.

The goal is to make leaders irrelevant. If people are responsible for themselves, they don’t need leaders. In fact, one of the best things a true leader does is to show his people how to continue without him. In other words, a good leader knows how to make himself eventually irrelevant.

Leaders be damned. Some people have lived and some communities have thrived without them. Perhaps we need to reevaluate the value and impact of leaders throughout history, because it occurs to me that these have been grossly overstated.

19 Replies to “Leaders are overrated; and the myth of one-man rule”

  1. We have so man so called :”leaders”; also we have so many corruptions, done by these “leaders” and their followers.

    Martial Law is still a “bogeyman issue” of the YellowTards; to frighten people, from the Marcoses, who are now gaining political strength.
    The so called “right leaders” to be found, is a delusional fantasy of us, ignorant and naive people….
    You can see good leaders, thru their accomplishments ; their right decisions and their ability to lead people in the right way…

    So politicians, who are really crooks, come to us with: Slogans; showing themselves kneeling infront of the church altars, as if praying; doing manual works; becoming traffic policeman; doing construction; etc…
    These are not leaders…they are impostors !

  2. ChinoF, how do you reconcile your point here with your comment that “we can’t all be the same or see the world the same way, we need to learn to live with each other as different people.”?

    1. I don’t see any contradiction. Leaders are a tool of trying to make others the same. With no leaders or at least with no overly intrusive leaders, we have more freedom to be different.

      1. It’s not necessarily a contradiction. A leader can only be intrusive to the extent the people allow it. Divergence can be constructive after all.

        1. For me, divergence is what makes most of the world work. Leadership for me creates a situation where people are actually prevented from doing much.

  3. Everybody is born unique, with talents and abilities…there are those who are born with good talents, and good abilities…
    There are really born leaders, who lead people in great ways…The Greek Conqueror, Alexander the Great, was a born, military leader…The great American General, Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, who was a great hero of the U.S. Civil War, was a great leader, and military strategist.

    Our talents and abilities, are supposed to be used, for the good of humanity. And, not to be used for our own selfish motives. In our country, we have talented and able people…but they use them for their own selfish motives, and to delude /scam other people…most of our political leaders are born amoral…

    We have to learn to live with each other, and learn to contribute whatever we can, for the good of humanity !

  4. “We don’t need the “right” leaders or any other such bozos.”

    In your desire to get hip or pretend to be someone hip, I think you got it wrong when you said that ‘leaders are irrelevant’.

    You said that, “The goal is to make leaders irrelevant.”, but also said that, “Leaders are a tool of trying to make others the same.”. You don’t see the contradiction there, but, aren’t you, in effect, acting like one (to be a leader) with what you’re trying to do with your written articles?

    I read somewhere here in one of the comments section what benign0 believes in when asked about what can change culture. Just to paraphrase what he said, “a strong leader can bring change in people’s culture.”

    Without a leader any group, society or community cannot function smoothly. It will only invite chaos and anarchy. In computing, all other software will not run by themselves with out the presence of any operating system (being the leader). And as we have been taught about the latin phrase of ‘Primus inter pares’, there’s always a first, even among equals of the best and the brightest.

      1. I’m afraid it’s not what you think it is. The statement wasn’t intended for you. As a matter of fact, I made use of your idea as a counter-argument on the value of leadership.

        But since you’re asking in behalf of the author, I have to say that it’s just a perception, a personal one, of people trying to convey something in the way of non-conformity.

      2. Well, perhaps next time start your comment with statements that draw from the message/content of the article and not your “perception” of the author so that you don’t, in the process, devalue whatever point you originally set out to make.

    1. I’m just offering ideas and it’s up to people to take or reject them. It’s not being a leader. I believe that the idea of “strong leaders” is overrated, because no matter who’s in the top seat, people will do what they want. I now believe that has marked most of history, not people acting in unison.

  5. Imagine steering a ship or rowing a boat without a leader. Maybe ChinoF came up with this out of frustration from leaders of today. We want gov’t workers and leaders to be educated, but by all means don’t “socialize” education?

    1. Big ships, perhaps, but most boats are sailed without a leader. Perhaps it should beg the question, do we need such figurative big ships in society, or is it better if people stay with their small boats and have a more peaceful coexistence as a result?

      1. There can be this sense of “unwieldiness” if entities become less able to manage themselves. I get your desire to be independent, but independence is mediated by everything else. Perhaps learning about how things actually work can lead to solutions that can minimize conflicts (if you want peaceful coexistence). And I think it’s a good idea to be able to manage a boat of any scale or size.

  6. The concept of Leadership isn’t actually prevention per se but more of rational control to whatever limits, going above or below the accepted norm, we set out to make for the self and others. It’s presence is like the idea of pain to the human body. We stop abusing our bodies when the pain gets intolerable. In other words, leadership is a recognized system of control set out to make order to a varied collective.

    If Leadership for you creates a situation where people are actually prevented from doing much, take heed of what Mr. Harry Callahan had said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”. You must be imagining about the story of human savagery in ‘The Lord of the Flies’. You can just imagine how it will go for any country without its own President, Prime Minister or any other Clown leading them. Same thing goes to an orchestra playing an opus like Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture without the master conductor.

    The henchmen may introduce problems but ‘lost in leadership’ is actually the real problem.

    1. Yes, I understand that role of leadership. But in practice it seems, things don’t always turn out that way. It gets abused, rational control gets put aside, and people put in their irrational desires. “A man’s got to know his limitations” to me implies that the person should do it themselves, sans leader. Perhaps the leader also needs to know their limitations. Perhaps life and society do not need to be an orchestra that always needs to conductor. Perhaps there are places where leaders may be needed to keep order, but that does not seem to be a universal rule to me. But in all, I still hold that leaders have been overrated in the role of holding the world together. That’s something everyone has to do.

      1. Let me add, when it comes to putting order in society, like law enforcement, that’s more of an arbitration role to me than leadership. Same with making laws to tell people what they cannot do with other, more of abritration than leadership.

        1. With the current setup, isn’t the mandate much more concentrated at the top? All this talk about authoritarian leadership being evil can be used by those who want power for themselves .

        2. Yes, I agree! In fact, those who keeping talking about authoritarian leadership being evil are among the “leaders” I was talking about.

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