The Kingmaker

This is my first posting on Medium and an attempt to blog on a more serious, thoughtful matter. Kind of.

Intrigued by a posting from Ario, I begin to recall how being involved in organization and the experience could impact on different individuals. I have different takes on the matter and not as challenged as him to be a leader, but my personal experience is irrelevant.

So you want to be a leader, but what makes a leader? A leader is nothing without followers, hence it’s essential to know how to achieve and/or manage their follower’s expectations. But before that, there’s a path to become a leader and it involved many thought process and strategizing it.

Now let me ask you this: have you watched ‘House of Cards’, ‘Scandals’ or ‘Game of Thrones’? These are the currently running Hollywood series, emphasizing behind the scenes and dirty laundry in politics. The path to leadership is always a complicated process and maintaining to be a leader is even a harder one. The series give a peek on how to win the battle from/with your political opponents, to make political choices, to influence others with ideas and collaborate for common/higher goals, to cover political fuck-ups and even turned the cards around for an advantage, and to trust no one because you are only as strong as your weakest link.

These series teach us about strategizing; knowing when to make a move and how to make a move. Timing is everything and patience is different from stalling, reluctancy nor incapability. Strategizing is not just mind/political mapping, but also versatility to move based on the current condition. Strategist, is actually a profession that we might never realized before.


Strategist role used to be underlooked; of which should remain so. Strategist is not influencer or advisor, because it plays a bigger role. When influencer drives public opinion and advisor thinks two or three steps ahead, strategist plans the leader’s future and make it works towards that direction. Strategist is a kingmaker. It requires multiple, synchronized, simultaneous tasks in a certain pipeline; with the ability to manouver versatilely according to the current situation, without losing sight of the end goal.

Now what makes a great strategist?

A great strategist is like the air; you don’t see it, but you’re dead without it. The leader lives and breathe by any steps and recommendation given by the strategist. If the air is toxic, anyone who inhale it would be sick. Any toxic advice that falsely given by the strategist could kill the leader’s reputation and career.

Yes, I just mansplaining strategist and that’s not good.


Now looking into current situation in Indonesia, I rarely see a good and professional strategist. Most of them are ‘working for the family’ and taking the consigliere role; but strategist should be professional and not blood related.

The biggest vice from the existing strategists here is the inability to lay low and avoid limelight. As strategists, discrecy is everything because their plans and steps should be unpredictable. However, the temptation is strong and eventually these strategists appears from the shadow of their leaders. They break the cardinal rule of not being seen and worst, stealing the spotlight.

We have even seen several ‘blunders’ where the strategists came out and even share the power with the leader. And that’s not the way it should have worked; it’s unclassy.

I long to see a real-life Mei Changsu from ‘Nirvana on Fire’. By far, the way he operates as a strategist, beats any fictional character I have known. He plans meticulously; plotting each steps before moving to the next, realizing they will have impacts in the future.

Maybe picking up something out of Sun Tzu is not enough. Maybe Changsu is what we need right now, so that the battle between strategists can remain unseen. But then how we can gossip about them?