Leaders' Graveyard: Self-Conceit

"Talent is God-given, be humble; Fame is man-given, be grateful; conceit is self-given, be careful." John Wooden,

The above quote, one among many valuable ones, from Coach Wooden, demands all attention by those seeking and/or enjoying the glory of both name and fame.

John Robert Wooden (October 14, 1910 – June 4, 2010) was an American basketball player and head coach at the University of California at Los Angeles. Nicknamed the "Wizard of Westwood," he won ten NCAA national championships in a 12-year period as head coach at UCLA, including a record seven in a row. No other team has won more than four in a row in Division 1 college men's or women's basketball. Source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Wooden

Let us identify a few critical markers of leadership before claiming the distinct spot ourselves:

  • Who approves our Leadership?

  • What makes someone accept us as a Leader?

  • When do we become an accomplished Leader worth leading?

  • Where do we want to be, so our followers feel proud to be led by us?

  • Why do our Leadership skills need to be continuously sharpened for unhindered growth?

The above 5 W's have always been touched upon by many outstanding geniuses around the world. They have used so many different examples, anecdotes, philosophies, historical facts as well as words of wisdom to bring home the above points in equally creative ways that it is not even funny anymore.

I need to add another question mark to the equation in the form of 'HOW.' I am well aware that it goes against the generally accepted principles of ‘Leadership.’ At the same time, I am proud to offer my respect to all the painstakingly acquired experiences of various ‘leaders,’ helping us bring about a significant change, an unforeseen growth in our business and all other sorts of motivational embellishments to boot.

Alas, there remains an equally large, if not larger, number of self-proclaimed 'leaders' that pride on hordes of gullible followers their mega-marketing machinery keeps enrolling with impunity.

One easy-to-identify feature, common among most of these fakes is their passion for assumed glory. They spare no effort to draw limelight on to themselves. 'I, my, and me' happens to be their sole purpose behind the illusion they create in the minds of their transitory followers. No wonder, the facade so created helps them lighten the load off of these be-fooled masses' wallets and enrich their own lifestyle with all imaginable luxuries.

Seeking ‘limelight’ is one of the most critical factors capable of pushing anyone into the grave before it is time and destroy everything built over the years. It has multiple negative impacts on leadership.

When you embark headlong into the blinding limelight of full focus on yourself, seeking attention and resulting glory, your shadow falls behind you. Keeping your followers in constant shadow will gradually start to create a wedge between you and your most ardent followers.

The end result: No Followers = No Leader.

When you walk against the limelight, your own shadow falls in front of you viz. on your own path ahead thus keeping you from moving forward. The growing darkness ahead of you leaves you short of direction where your next step should be.

So, what is the remedy, you may ask?

  • Lead with a passion

  • Lead BUT NEVER mislead

  • Lead them for their own benefits

  • Lead to make a quantifiable change for the better

  • Lead to bring out the best in your followers so they could lead others

  • Letting the light fall upon your followers instead helps your message spread far and wide as they get to see the direct, concrete benefits of your leadership.

It is their newly won pride in coming out of the darkness of the unknown to the brightness of your intellect that will make them your most ardent ambassadors and emissaries.

Leave aside limelight, so the shadow falls away from both your own self as well as your most devoted followers. This shall help bring many more individuals into your fold as they wonder what is causing this shadow.

Their personal quest to throw new light on their next move or their future course of action will motivate them to seek you out. It will prompt them to ask for your help as well as the all too important guidance. In turn, your capacity to help your followers will provide a further boost to your leadership.

Creating an ambient situation where light is showered upon you and your successful followers from multiple directions, thanks to your constructive interaction with them, will add luster to your own public image and also help create an ever-lasting legacy.


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