Throughout our recent era of business and enterprise, a certain type of leadership has been celebrated and revered.
The ideal leader of this era has asserted his authority through dominance, and commanded obedience through fear. This leader is the alpha male, and he has been the hero of the 21st century.
The story of the alpha male has become so prevalent and connected to success in our minds that many people still model themselves on this archetype. The idea is that this type of behavior will bring us money, fame and women. This trick certainly still works. It works because we are collectively choosing to uphold the myth. We are choosing to value the rewards of this type of behavior.
When we lead others from this point of dominance and false authority, false because it is based on fear rather than truth, we are very seldom satisfied. Instead we feel separate from our peers and disconnected from our community.
There is ample evidence for this in our current society. Deep down we all know that money, fame, and fortune don’t buy us happiness, yet we constantly fall into the trap of trying to control others and the environment around us.
Then we numb ourselves to drown out the inner guilt and desperation that follow. We snort cocaine to forget that winning the courtroom battle gives us a quick fix of serotonin, but does nothing to mend the lasting inner emptiness.
In the business world, there has been an epidemic of this type of leadership, through subordination and control. A total worship of the alpha male, to the extent that even women have to take on these characteristics to “get ahead”.
In the short term it works. In the long term, however, it erodes our hearts and happiness.
Employees may take their revenge in subtle ways, sometimes even by stealing. Sick leave, stock pinching, and sabotage. Abundant opportunities exist for the creative employee to level the field. Which, of course, fuels the system.
More control and domination lead to more distrust, then more revenge, and finally even more control. In the end, termination is possible, then the cycle begins again with fresh legs.
So here we are, the richest generation in history. With record levels of depression, anxiety, ADHD, suicide, cancer, and many other illnesses.
Why? As Mother Theresa said, “We have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
We have cut ourselves off from one another and from our communities for the sake of short term hits of serotonin. There are other reasons that contribute to our isolation, but this one is at the forefront. It is symbolic of our ongoing struggle.
So, what is the alternative?
The alternative is a type of leadership that is empowering. One that lifts all those being led to a higher state of awareness. This leader sees more in others than they are able to see in themselves, and helps them to fulfill their potential.
Just as a lioness belongs to her cubs and nurtures them selflessly, a true leader belongs to the people. We have always known that to lead is to serve, but to authentically act from this place, we need to come to terms with who we are.
Our ego wants us to believe that we are the center of the universe, just as we once clung to the idea that the earth is the center of the universe. Our ego wants us to believe that as long as it is in the center, at the top of the pile, we will never feel pain, and we will never have to contemplate our own mortality.
Unfortunately for the ego, it is not the center of the universe. Only the sun, the source of all systems of worship since the beginning of human culture, can take that central place. The sun is our soul. It represents the part of us that is infinite, the part of us that is connected to the whole, and the part of us that is the whole.
When we truly begin to identify with that infinite part, we will realize that the mortality we face is the mortality of the ego. The mortality of the false part of ourselves that claims to be the center. That part that needs to be special, and that needs to be at the top of the food chain.
In truth, there is nothing we can do or be that would make us more valuable than we already are. There is no amount of money or fame that can make us more worthy of love.
Being “better”, faster or richer will not change the substance of the soul. When we pull ourselves out of this ego game, we come to realize that one of the most fulfilling things in this world is to love. To make others smile. To contribute positively in a positive way to others’ lives.
When we act from this place of love, we inspire others. When we lead from this place of love, others will follow. Not because we are so great, but because love is so great.
This kind of leadership is truly effective, because it centers not around the leader, but around the place we are going to. This is what is truly important.
As more and more people embark on the journey of self-realization, of identification with the eternal, a new story of leadership will be created.
Maybe it is not new at all, maybe it is as old as the sun. But it is at least a new take on an old archetype. A new myth about an old hero.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editorial Assistant: Chrissy Tustison / Editor: Rachel Nussbaum