Tag Archives: Skill

Thirty Leaders and Two Followers: Can We All Be Leaders?

A few weeks ago, I was preparing to teach by re-reading the chapter for which the material we’d be covering in class. Part of the class session was going to be spent on leadership. Granted, this is an undergraduate textbook in organizational behavior, I was truly disappointed to find that of the 30+ pages on leadership, there were only two — 2 — pages spent talking about followers. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen a successful leader without followers.

One of the broader issues here is math. Of all the people in the world, how many of them do you think will be leaders? Of all the people in the world, how many of them do you think will be followers? I’m not saying that people shouldn’t strive to be leaders or be the best they can be, but based on our current definition/understanding of leadership, not everyone will spend a great deal of their time being a leader. In fact, most people will spend the majority of their lives being followers — and there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, many of the people that we think of as great leaders were — in fact — once followers. Some say you have to be a good follower before you can be a good leader, but I’m not really going to get into leadership philosophy right now.

Instead, I wanted to draw to your attention to the amount of time we spend thinking about, talking about, and teaching leadership and the absolute void with regard to following. For instance, a quick Google search returns over 450,000,000 results for leadership, but only 420,000 for followership. You might think that’s not a fair comparison, so what about how to be a good follower or how to be a good leader? Follower returns: 54,000,000 (though I think some of these might be returning religious results). Leader returns: 1,350,000.

While leadership is more revered, it certainly seems like there’s room in the popular literature for a few great books on followers and how to be a good one.

Spirituality From an Unlikely Source: Will Smith

I was on YouTube like I had been a and on the sidebar, I noticed a video under the suggestion heading by the title of: . I’ve always subscribed to the theory that our words and thoughts have an effect on the world around us (check out our or , and you’ll see some of the kinds of books that I recommend discuss these principles in their books), but I didn’t expect this kind of wisdom from a famous actor.

It’s not that I don’t think that Will Smith has the capacity to understand or even believe these kinds of things, it’ s just that with entertainers, it’s harder to imagine them outside of some of the roles they’ve played. After watching the almost 10-minute video of many clips spliced together where Will advocates the theory that our thoughts have a decided effect on the outcome of our lives, I couldn’t help but write a post here about it. In fact, I’ve even included the video at the end because I really think it’s worth the 10 minutes it takes to watch it.

One of the interesting perspectives that he offers is on talent and skill. He says:

Talent you have naturally. Skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft.

I think that there is definitely truth to this and it is backed up by the work of in his book . In it, Gladwell purports that to be over-the-top successful at something, you need to spend upwards of 10,000 hours doing that something. Gladwell cites an example of , explaining to the reader that for 4 straight years, The Beatles were able to perform live in Germany. In this time, Gladwell claims that The Beatles accumulated over 10,000 hours of (practice) at their craft and that when they came back to England, they were an instant-hit. Gladwell also cites the example of Bill Gates who, when in high school, gained access to a computer. Gates spent nearly all of his free-time on this computer, accumulating hours and hours of (practice), which eventually led to .

Another interesting quote from the video:

You don’t try to build a wall. You don’t set out to build a wall. You don’t say I’m gonna build the biggest, baddest, greatest wall that’s ever been built. You don’t start there. You say, I’m gonna lay this brick, as perfectly as a brick can be laid. And, you do that every single day, and soon you have a wall.

I’m sure this concept is not new to anyone, about “,” but it’s something that I think is worth repeating, and I think it’s also adds a different level of authority to hear someone like Will Smith say it.

I want to do good. I want the world to be better because I was here.

Wouldn’t it just be fabulous if we all walked around with this attitude: wanting the world to be better because we were here. Performing acts, volunteering, making a difference – making the world a better place.

I just believe that. I believe that I can create whatever I want to create.

Around of the video, he begins talking about how our thoughts are physical things in the universe.

Our thoughts, our feelings, our dreams, our ideas — are physical in the universe. That, if we dream something, if we picture something, if we commit ourselves to it, that is a physical thrust towards realization that we can put into the universe. That the universe is not a thing that’s gonna push us around. That the world and people and situations are not something that’s gonna push us around. That we are gonna bend the universe and command and demand that the universe become what we want it to be.

Celebrities can be a mixed bag. They can run the spectrum from those that are having a hard go of things, like , to those like Will Smith who use their celebrity for other means. Whenever I learn that a celebrity is involved in the kinds of thinking that Will Smith is, I can’t help but smile just a little bit, knowing that maybe our world really is changing faster than we know.