Tag Archives: Independence

Why independence doesn’t mean being a lone wolf.


Main Squeeze sent me this a few days ago; said it reminded her of me.  You see I don’t enjoy organizational politics at all (who does?) and I’ve never been much good at kow-towing.

I shared it with my friend and business partner, who wondered if “wolves”, being great at “lone”, might then not be good at playing on a team.  At the time I thought that’s maybe where the analogy breaks down, but in hindsight the comparison of a wolf to an independent man or woman is apt. (Doesn’t that always happen – you think of what to say, but way, way too late.)

Being of independent mind does not mean going it alone.  It means thinking for yourself and deciding when its good to work with others.

Working in a team, even one with a leader, doesn’t mean you need to bow, buckle under, or “perform”.  It means you acknowledge that your interests are aligned with the groups’; that cooperating will get you all further; that you’re hunting in a pack, as it were.

The thing is, if you’re the leader of the pack, remember that your goals, (your own, and the organizations’), will be better served if those on your team are “thinking followers“, not performing animals.  Interact with them accordingly and they’ll stay engaged and motivated.  Treat them like monkeys and the better ones will be gone, and those left will not move unless you say so, or promise them a treat.

Whether you lead only your self, or a team of one hundred, your foundational attribute has to be independence.  That is, you need to choose to stay switched on and focused; you must be willing to think, analyze, judge, and make decisions; and you need the courage, confidence and drive to initiate action.

Sometimes you’ll choose to follow the direction set by someone else, or to take advice, or to work collaboratively.  Never should you jump because your fear a whip or want shiny baubles.







Qualities of Self-actualizing People – there’s more to Abraham Maslow than The Hierarchy of Needs

WHILE doing some research on motivation, I’ve learned a little more about Abraham Maslow, whom you probably know from his development of the “Hierarchy of Needs”.

Later in his life he studied people whom he deemed to be “Self-actualized”, and realized that they shared some fundamental personality traits. Continue reading

Does A Leader Need Followers?

You think for yourself, you initiate and pursue values, you’re good with people, you’re always trying to learn more, and you’re passionate and committed to everything you decide to do.  You inspire people by your example.  You don’t have a leadership title and you don’t have formal followers.

Are you a leader?

I would argue that in the most important sense, yes, you are.

The first person who needs to be lead effectively and in the right direction is your self.

Deciding what to do, how to do it, and then getting it done may sound like the normal and ordinary role of every person, which in fact it is; but the majority of people unfortunately can’t, don’t, or won’t do it.

Far too many people are passive, unthinking, unreasonable, apathetic, and bored.  They go with the flow, follow the crowd, do what they’re told, and spend their lives surviving, not thriving.

Independent thinking, the most vital attribute in leadership, and a learnable skill no matter what your IQ, is a rare commodity.  When was the last time you heard of a school that teaches thinking skills to children?  Right, me neither, but they should.

So the answer is no, a leader does not need followers per se.  Anyone who displays the essential attributes of leadership is a leader in my book, with or without “followers”.

NB:  The converse of this is that having followers does not necessarily make you a good leader.  More on this in a future post.

John Allison at Cato

FORMER CEO at BB&T Bank, John Allison, is now heading up the Cato Institute.  BB&T, lead by Allison, was one of very few banks that didn’t succumb to the government-induced incentive to originate mortgages to people who couldn’t really afford them (sub-prime), and hence came through the GFC relatively unscathed.  The BB&T Philosophy, thanks to Allison, is grounded in reason, and one of the best I’ve seen.  I’ve based my own companies’ guiding documents largely on these – they’re that good.

From his blog post, Thoughts on Joining Cato Institute:

“We must be free to think for ourselves if we are to be productive, creative, innovative, and happy. By definition, all human progress is based on creativity (innovation). Unless someone does something better (that is, different), there can be no progress. Creativity is only possible for an independent thinker. If someone forces you to act as if 2 plus 2 is 5, you cannot think. Government regulations often force decision makers to act inconsistently with what they know to be correct, discouraging productivity and lowering our standard of living.”

The Iron Lady on Consensus


“Consensus: “The process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values, and policies in search of something in which no one believes, but to which no one objects; the process of avoiding the very issues that have to be solved, merely because you cannot get agreement on the way ahead. What great cause would have been fought and won under the banner: ‘I stand for consensus?”

The quote above neatly encapsulates why in negotiation, “Win-Win” mostly ends up being Lose-Lose.  Compromise is not always the answer.  As the great negotiation coach, Jim Camp, says, sometimes you have to start with “No”.