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Warning signs in Leaders

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It may seem like common sense as to who is a good leader and who is a bad one, but the lines are not that clear. This is especially true for spiritual and magical communities because you are dealing a lot in the unseen aspects of life. Also our own experiences and perspectives of what makes a good leader good and a bad leader bad is different. So, as always, I am going to be speaking from my own perspective here.

Good Information doe not make you a Good Leader.

This is the one I think trips people up the most. A person can have some really great information and in-depth knowledge on a subject, but that does not mean they are a good leader. A leader requires more than just knowledge. What makes them a true leader is how they use that information to help others. I know people who have really good information, yet treat the people following them in despicable manners. Talking down to them and belittling them, convincing them that they need this leader if they are going to get anywhere. Telling them that their personal experiences are wrong because they do not align with theirs. Telling them they don’t have true connection because they are not from a certain area or background. Acting like they are too important or busy to connect individually with the people who follow them when they have questions or need help. These are all tell- tell signs of bad leadership. One who wants power to dominate others, not create space for others. A leader is not here to be held on a pedestal, to be elevated through their followers. A true leader is here to serve their community. To support and elevate them.

That person may have good information that is extremely useful. That’s a good thing. We need a lot of different perspectives and resources. We need Scribes – those who hold and share knowledge. It takes a certain personality and constitution in order to be a leader though. Leaders are not here to serve their own needs – they are here to serve, protect, and raise up others. It requires them to listen and consider all sides. They do not need to agree with you personally, but they know the importance of other voices and seeing new perspectives, so they will listen.

A large following does not mean they are a Good Leader.

Just because a lot of people are following them, does not mean they are a good leader.

How did they get that following? Were people drawn to them because they had good information? Do they show respect for other voices, especially those who follow them? Did they bully their way into the space by attacking everyone else who tried to speak? Do their followers exhibit the same behavior – attacking others who say anything against the leader?

There is a distinct line between a close community and a bad cult. A true leader does not need to go around attacking anyone who they see as “competition.” That is a key sign of a weak leader. The bad leader feels a sense of lacking, scarcity, and need which turns into insecurity which is where that behavior comes from. Now, a good leader will see a bad leader in their area and discuss the issues with their own people – not attacking but discussing the issues – because a public display of attack only feeds into the bad leader. It gives their people something to “fight against” an us vs them mentality, when the problem isn’t the people it is the leaders. I know for some this may be hard to understand because we have been conditioned to fight, to have this need to publicly speak out. There are times when that is necessary yes, but it is not as often as we imagine. Walking away actually takes more strength and courage.

Don’t judge a leader’s worth by the amount of people following them. Judge them by how they treat those people following them. That will tell you more about their true motives and character.

Lastly – Where does their motivation lie?

This one may be hard to spot at first but the colors always shine through with time.

Do they only promote themselves and those who follow them? A good leader will always show various sides, including views that oppose theirs. They won’t agree with them, and will be clear as to why they personally do not agree, but they won’t actively encourage their people to attack and suppress the opposing perspectives. They won’t demand that those that follow them to hold they same views as they do. Good leaders know, in order to have the deepest knowledge people must see all the perspectives, even opposing ones. There may be a useful piece of information within all the bad information that will help someone else.

A good leader will not try and control the thoughts and will of their followers – They will just be there for them when they need it. A good leader is not there to convince people to follow them – They are there to take care of and guide the ones that choose to be there. A good leader does not need to create a war, an us vs them mentality – because they understand everyone needs something different and people are free to choose for themselves.

All of this gets even muddier in an age of social media and capitalism. We are at the highest point in living history where spiritualism itself has been thrust into this sphere of mass commercialization. When money gets involved – we can see some good leaders shift to bad actors. Getting paid for your time, energy, and skills are important because we all have bills to pay. It’s like any other job. The problem comes when leaders start twisting themselves and their communities, putting the money before the people. Leading isn’t about prestige, making a name for yourself, dominating over others, holding power – Leadership is about serving others and protecting them. It is taking on more responsibilities because it isn’t about you anymore. It is more work than credit given. It is done for reasons greater than ourselves, and rarely serves ourselves. It is why we have a very true saying “Those that do not want to lead are exactly the ones we need to lead.” The ones who do not want to, know the cost to themselves, the work required, and the responsibilities that have to be shouldered to actually do the job right.

Agree – Disagree – but this is how I view all of this and my experiences in many different areas of life. If you choose to be a Leader, think hard about what that means and why you want it – be honest with yourself. If you are following someone, be critical. Look at their actions, how they treat others, how they treat themselves.

We all lead in some capacity and we all follow in some capacity. Be mindful of how you do both.