"Leadership" v leadership

I became aware of the need to make this subtle distinction by my friend and collaborator Brian Bennett during an exchange we had on one of his blog entries, in which he criticised the lack of leadership shown by the main Cannabis campaign groups. I was ranting on about demands for "Leadership" being problem rather than solution when he brought me up short by referring to himself, and by implication, myself as "leaders". He said:

call it "inspiration" if you'd like, rather than leadership. the point is not to find someone to blindly follow: it is to find someone who clearly has the gameplan and qualities to accomplish the mission. and who will lay down the challenge and a coherent way to achieve it

I would still take issue with "qualities to accomplish the mission" because that has to be a "team effort" but I take his point about "inspiration". That is, after all, the whole point of my work: to inspire my readers (and thence, eventually, the world) to change, first the way they see the problems and second the way they deal with them. Clearly any proposal for dealing with a problem must be inititiated by one or more people with some idea of how to address the problem and if someone is the first to make a suggestion, and people "follow" that suggestion, then, semantically at least, that which is being followed must be a "leader"!

That kind of leadership is not what I'm railing against. The "Leadership" we don't need is the "Leadership" that believes it deserves Power over lesser mortals as a reward or even condition for its contribution. Such men (and they nearly all ARE men) come as close as I care to get to personifying genuine "evil".

As I wrote to Brian in a subsequent email:

the inspiration for me in this context is a fabulous quotation I heard years ago in a South African anti apartheid play I caught the last 20 mins of on TV, the name and author of which I never recorded. It is apparently a genuine quote from a Black South African anarchist who died at the hands of the police in the Soweto riots (1963?).

"If you lead, I will not follow.
If you follow, I will not lead.
I want to walk beside you as my friend"

Close Window