by Alex Shippee in Labels: , ,

It's absurd how important empathy is to communication. Without it, you might as well just be talking to yourself and trying to kill time. That's not anything new though. We've all been told by our parents, or teachers, that we should always listen to others and try to put ourselves in their shoes. Beyond that, it's part of being a sane person -  considering others' reactions to what we do and say.

In fact, that's how I would describe leadership: not only acknowledging that other people rely on you, but making the effort to give credibility to that relationship. The best leaders already do this; the worst see this transfer of power as a free pass. They can do whatever they want as long as those higher up on the totem pole - mentors, bosses, clients, etc. - are pleased.

But that's not leadership. If anything, it's the opposite - it's being a good courtier to someone who has authority over you. It's a one way street.

All of us are in this predicament because we're neither absolutely powerful nor absolutely powerless.
We depend on others to play their part, and we are expected to play our own; we are both led, and lead; give, and take.

That is how collaboration functions. If it breaks down, then the poor leader will either fail or have to resort to force; the poorly led will either respond well (become better courtiers) or poorly (fail to adapt, or leave).

That's how you begin to form a culture - for better or for worse. The responsibility ultimately falls to us to control the environment we're a part of and to make it one that's worthwhile. To quote Chuck Palahniuk,

"The first step — especially for young people with energy and drive and talent, but not money — the first step to controlling your world is to control your culture. To model and demonstrate the kind of world you demand to live in."

Controlling your culture is a two way street - being led and leading.