Let’s start off with the question: What is leadership?
It is probably easier to say what it’s not! In fact, leadership, although largely talked about, is often described as one of the least understood concepts across cultures and civilizations. Over the years, many have stressed the prevalence of this misunderstanding, stating that the existence of myths concerning leadership often interferes with (1) our conception of what leadership is all about, and (2) our ability to become leaders.
The first leadership myth is best stated in leadership guru Warren G. Bennis’ own words: “The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born – that there is a genetic factor to leadership. This myth asserts that people simply either have certain charismatic qualities or not. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.”
The values and qualities associated with leadership may be taught and learned just like we can learn how to drive, to communicate better, or crack a single tail whip. And of course, good leadership skills are not developed overnight and it does take time an effort to hone them.
The second myth is that “leadership is about possessing power and/or authority over others.”
Sure, we probably all agree with that leadership certainly involves some form of power and/or or authority. But, leadership is not about having power over people nor does it have to involve a formal form of authority. Rather, it is a power with people that exists as a reciprocal relationship between a leader and his/her followers. Manipulation, coercion, and domination to influence others are not something a good leader have to rely upon. On the contrary, often individuals who seek group consent and strive to act in the best interests of others are extremely effective leaders. Some examples include a class president in school, a court judge, a director of a BDSM lifestyle organization (many organizations have submissive and slaves in leadership positions that are extraordinary leaders).
Peter Drucker – who has written over 30 books about economics, business, leadership, management and society – says this about leadership: “Leadership is not magnetic personality – that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not ‘making friends and influencing people’ – that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to higher sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.”
My own “working definition” of leadership is “the process of social influence in which one person can enlist the persistent aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task, mission and/or vision.”
In the context of M/s relationships this means that the Master as a leader is someone who persistently (for example, in a regular or 24/7 fashion) organizes and coordinates his household towards achieving common goals, missions and visions. slaves choose to follow the Master (as the leader) because they believe in his/her vision of where he/she is leading.
I think it’s interesting to note that leadership, in this sense, is not directly required in other forms of kinky or D/s relationships. For example, a dominant or top may lead a scene, but that is just for the duration of the scene (episodic) and not the same as ongoing leadership (persistent). An individual may be the dominant personality and want things his/her way, but demanding your way is not the same as leadership.
In summary, leadership provides vision, inspiration, and context which is most likely to yield sustained enthusiasm for the M/s relationship. This sustained enthusiasm yields greater likelihood of long-term successful M/s relationships.
Eric has presented nationwide at numerous conferences, organizations and events. He is a founding member and an instructor at the Master/slave Development Center, an educational group for Masters and slaves. He is also the founder of NYC Kinky Living (NYCKL) and the producer of the hands-on immersive full-day events EdgePlay, KinkWorks, PlaySpace, ROPESCAPE, and ROPESCAPE 2. Contact Eric at Eric.Pride@gmail.com.