Recent events, both worldwide and nationwide; in politics, entertainment and media, have shown that leadership does not last forever.
What do all these people have in common? They lived in the stratosphere of their respective worlds, and the air up there can get hard to breathe. One held on as long as he could, starved of oxygen. One stepped down voluntarily, only to join the humans at the next highest level. And one seems to forget that those clouds she’s on are mighty transparent, especially for anyone looking to knock her off them.
In an era and part of a generation that’s constantly looking for what’s next, those on top face intense amounts of scrutiny. Perhaps it’s always been that way. After all, it not only takes courage to claim leadership but the confidence that one can be passionate, loyal, creative and practically perfect in every way. That’s a lot to be expected to maintain, and in an age of total transparency the sharks in the water definitely have laser-beams on their heads.
That being said, it’s amazing that people wait until their (or their nation’s) cracking point to step down, to shake it up. As a leader, its easy to fall into the idea that you are the sole person qualified to do a given job. As an entrepreneur or innovator, it is even harder to relinquish control. But in the ever-changing technological world that has come to define the first decade of this century, there must be an addition to the leader’s list of qualities: Transition.
The kingdoms and empires of man will always need kings and emperors, but gone are the days of life-long reigns. The leader of the twenty-first century is transitional, able to carefully calculate the need for change. A leader is able to share ideas without jealousy, and credit others for a job well done or a thought well-spoken. I am by no means a fan of ‘progress for progress’ sake’ but in the digital landscape, staying ahead of the curve is an essential skill. In our age of transparency, this may be nigh impossible.
So if you can launch yourself into the stratosphere, great. But make plans to come down slowly and with grace.