Leaders. They drive the agenda, the agenda is not driving them. They drive the agenda even when other people think they don’t. They want to make a specific difference, transform something, be ahead of the game on something. Leaders want to be at the core of key decisions, key strategies. By definition, leaders do not miss any boats. They drive them. Leaders have followers.
Dealers. They want to obtain something. They may aim at A and obtain B. B may be a good deal or a bad deal, but it is a deal. Somebody has something to give, dealers are there to get it, for themselves, for others. Dealers negotiate. They think of themselves as great negotiators. When they obtain something, they feel very good, often to the extent of consciously or unconsciously forgetting the value of what they have not obtained. Dealers have counterpart negotiators. Perhaps partners, but not followers.
Dreamers. They have imaginary views of worlds. They create stories about them. They believe those stories regardless their solidity. This is secondary to the dream. Whether a good dream or a bad dream, there is always a narrative: a Promise Land, a place to escape oppression, a nation in full control of its destiny. There may not be land, to be promised or not, no oppression other than in their minds, and no nation that can ever be in full control. But it does no matter much. They are very good at the fabrication. Dreamers have admirers, not followers, maybe partners (in dreaming).
Leaders may need some dealers to get the deals, and some dreamers to provide the music.
Dealers can’t do much without leaders. In fact dealers fool themselves by thinking that obtaining the deal is leadership. Very often the leader is in the other side, given them a deal that sounds incredibly attractive. It may be attractive, indeed; it may also be irrelevant.
Dreamers without leaders just dream, but they have a fabulous capacity to fool the admirers, again, thinking that they are leading. Dreamers like the dealers and come to believe that obtaining some deals is the same as leading.
If you adopt the working frame above, you have gained quite a lot in the understanding of anthropology in action, whether inside the organization or in society. You will then have to develop good logic algorithms of the type: if this is so, then we can expect X,Y,Z. Then, you will understand what is going on. And it will be fun. Promise.
Forgive me a societal example, a free diversion from my usual organizational focus. The United Kingdom Government has just achieved a deal that allows the country to escape from some European Union rules, such as benefits for EU immigrants, never joining the Euro, possibility of challenging financial laws that the City of London may not like, and, don’t ever mention again ‘further European Integration’. It has created, according to his Prime Minister David Cameron, ‘a special case for the UK’, a victory of great proportions. He now plans to campaign for a Yes in a ‘in or out’ referendum in order to avoid the so called Brexit. ‘A yes, because we want to stay, because this is a good modification of the way the EU works’. But it isn’t. It is a series of concessions to the UK government of the day. Full stop. This comes after months of negotiating with the European Union leaders, and on the back of a very significant part of the UK population that does not want to be part of the European Union, probably more than half of the country.
The United Kingdom is not a leader. It has never been. Not in that context. It has mastered Dealership in a way that suits the dealer. The UK (government) is not interested in creating a better or exceptional European Union. It’s not interested in leading the breaking of unnecessary bureaucracy, the boosting of extraordinary innovation and entrepreneurship, creating a ‘Commons’ of the highest quality and, above all, them being the leaders of this transformation.
The UK is a dealer, meeting all the above criteria, including the one on pretending that they lead, and that their deal is a significant achievement for the ‘Commons’, for all the 28 EU countries. The UK Commons is not represented by the border of the 28 countries in the Union, but by a line on the ground within the island of Ireland and the cliffs of Dover. Nothing that David Cameron has negotiated and ‘won’, tackles fundamental issues of the European Union. It tackles fundamental issues of the UK Tory party. It’s a deal, not a lead, let alone a dream.
Could the UK be (have been) a leader? Of course!It’s a choice. It has great brains, great ethos, great societal fabric and a great deal of critical thinking. [Isn’t it ironic that the European Union ‘Constitution’ was drafted by British lawyers?] But it does not want to be a leader.
It is crucial time in the unpredictable, volatile and inter-dependent world affairs. Others will lead the boats, others will dream within the boats, and others will make a deal about the size of the life-jackets.
PS. For me, what a fantastic alibi to run out of space and not elaborating further and/or bringing other ‘examples’.