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Sunday, May 19
The Indiana Daily Student


Not everybody can be the CEO

Not everyone can be the CEO.

There is one CEO for every major corporation, each of which employs thousands of people. Yet so many of us are encouraged to be the CEO when often a leader is not necessary. Leadership ability has become, I believe, one of the most overemphasized characteristic traits in ?modern culture.

It’s no wonder it has. It ties into the mythos of American individualism, where the lone person — usually a man — achieves everything with enough hard work, perseverance and charisma, which naturally leads people to ?follow him.

In this mythos, leadership demonstrates more than a glorified managerial capability; it is the ability to create something out of nothing, to enact change or influence the history of a nation.

But why do we give all the credit to the leader when it would have been impossible without the followers?

Every application I have seen in the past few years, bar none, has asked me to describe a leadership experience even when leadership has essentially nothing to do with the position.

When applying to my building’s Leadership Council — sure, alright, Leadership Council — I was required to list leadership experience for my application for a secretary position when my only job by and large would be to take meeting minutes.

But, barring some absurdities, leadership ability holds vastly too much importance, mainly because everybody is encouraged to be a leader.

And if everybody ends up a leader, we are just going to have masses of people standing around trying to convince others to follow when they are too busy trying to get ?people to them.

A leader is not a leader without a movement behind them.

With that in mind, why should everybody be required, or even encouraged, to be a leader? There are so many other positions to fill and, even then, since when has the whole of humanity been divided into the binary of ?leader and follower?

It is far too easy to suppose that if you are not one, you’re the other because, certainly, the skills associated with leadership are not just in leaders. But, once again, the presence of leadership skills among a large proportion of the population doesn’t necessarily make it inherently desirable to possess those skills.

Many times, I think “leadership ability” is understood to be synonymous with “capability” when, obviously, this is not the case. A person can often be successful in many careers without an ounce of leadership ability.

Even in collaborative business efforts, which career advisers would point to as being a pinnacle of white-collar leadership, there are only one or two leaders, with everyone else occupying vastly ?different roles.

So, in the end, leadership ability is great, but it is not some all-encompassing skill that proves the capability of the bearer of said ability. Let’s not all try to be leaders because, if we do, nothing would ever get finished.

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