I’ve spent years observing people’s great interest in leadership. Many people are so certain that leadership is the key to success that suggesting otherwise is regarded as absurd.
I’ve always found this indifference to followers and collaborationship frustrating. However, I’ve now come across an interesting research that might explain why it’s difficult for people to change perspective.
The research presented in the article “The Bias Against Creativity: Why People Desire But Reject Creative Ideas” (summarized in this article) conclude that “creative ideas trigger a feeling of uncertainty”. In our case, the idea of challenging the current leadership obsession and the industry around it, may create a feeling of uncertainty - ‘What if leaders aren’t as important as we think they are?’ And, as the research concludes, this “uncertainty causes a fight or flight reaction.”
The research states that:
· "Creative ideas are by definition novel, and novelty can trigger feelings of uncertainty that make most people uncomfortable.
· People dismiss creative ideas in favor of ideas that are purely practical -- tried and true.
· Objective evidence shoring up the validity of a creative proposal does not motivate people to accept it.
· Anti-creativity bias is so subtle that people are unaware of it, which can interfere with their ability to recognize a creative idea."
It’s almost as if we humans have such a need to be right, that when facing the possibility of being wrong, we pretend to be right. This seems to be true even if there are strong indications suggesting that we are in fact wrong.
Fortunately, history has shown that once enough people start changing their perspectives, others tend to follow. A lot has changed since I began working with followership in 2007. Followership is gaining more attention and an increasing number of people are beginning to question the idea of the omnipotent leaders.
We still have a long way to go, however. Our attention should (in my opinion) be neither on leaders nor followers but on collaborationship. I also anticipate a worldwide discussion regarding the whole leadership industry. In the end, I guess it boils down to how open people are to questioning status-quo. It will be very interesting to follow the leadership debate in the coming years.