Who Runs the World

Leadership Journal

Thursday. April 6. Class. Douglas. 940–11 am

During this class period we started off by talking about offering ideas of what problems of leadership we have not discussed. The first Sarah brought up was the question of “ When does a leader know (how or) when to give up their leadership position.

Dr. Sandridge made the connection that some of the traits that enabled them to rise to and hold that leadership position may at some point be traits that make it hard for them to know when to give it up.

I believe this to be a very interesting question of leadership. In our study of leadership we’ve seen many leaders work to establish a strong legacy and the question of heirs to the throne is one that we’ve discussed in multiple modules. However I agree we never fully discussed any stories of transition between old and new within a society.

One of these traits we discussed was “grandiosity” which is an unrealistic view of oneself as superior to others, or the thought of oneself as different and special. And how this trait can be related to the problem of leadership relating to stepping down from the leadership position. An example of the two working together would be if a leader is approaching the age in which their predecessor stepped down, their grandiosity may keep them from seeing this as a sign that perhaps their time has also come. Because they man believe themselves to hold more stamina and sharpness in their age than their predecessors. Or if they believe themselves to be superior to any of the candidates as heir to the throne they may not wish to give it up because they wouldn’t trust the heir to perform the task as well.

Another form of grandiosity we saw in the 2016 election cycle. We saw a businessman and reality star join into a political race for the president of the united states off of grandiosity. He joined the presidential race saying that he believes that he is what America needs to make things right again, that all of the previous politicians were incompetent and bad for America, he has viewed himself as our savior, and some whackos have agreed with him such as the author we discussed last week. Many people agree with my analysis.

We went on to discuss the connection between this and the oracle of Delphi, a quote that is used quite often, “Know Thyself,” and how difficult of a task this is for people in leadership roles. The fact that leaders are most times people that yield large amounts of power makes for a situation of often extreme delicacy or all around neglect when it comes to those around the leader offering criticism. Often times as we act we need those around us to watch our behavior and check us when we’re behaving out of turn. Leaders when surrounded by the wrong people especially can miss the piece involving being checked and so will go on gaining false confidence and believing themselves to be perfect. This is obviously especially relevant in cases where leaders lead by tactics of fear and extreme control. Outside of those with the direct ear of the leader, many leaders in the past have not had the opportunity or the desire to hear from their general followers on their actions or decisions in their positions of leadership. This is a concept that has come to be more complicated in the age of social media as now everyone with a laptop or a smart phone has become a political analyst, movie critic etc etc. with a “valid” opinion and the power to now put a voice to those opinions and possibly contact their object of criticism directly.

We then spoke briefly about the Pepsi commercial and the question of its effectiveness.

After we discussed the responsibility of a leader and the motives of leaders to lead. As a class we rattled off answers:

  • money (or access to money)
  • fame/ status/ recognition
  • desire to be in control
  • desire to help
  • desire to establish a legacy
  • sense of responsibility (no one else can handle the job).

I tend to have a negative view of those who actively pursue positions of leadership as I see them as often times narcissistic as found in my example of a motive of leadership being that someone believes no one else could do the job as well as they. I also believe the desire for controlling others and the pursuit of fame and recognition are less than honorable pursuits. I believe these motives of leadership often lead to negative outcomes and those outcomes often leave a lasting effect on the people that have been lead astray more than the leader themselves.

Speaking of followers being lead astray, after motives, we went into our discussion of the Odyssey and discussed problems we found within his leadership.

Weekend (Friday/Saturday/Sunday)

During the weekend, The National Council of Negro Women, the organization on campus for which I serve as second vice president, held the annual “Height of Black Womanhood” Conference.

Me with a few of our general body members and a few other Eboard members.

This conference is one that started important conversations about some the five stories of leadership as we had discussions on romantic relationships, and brand and business building, and much more. It also was a great time of self reflection and assessment as a leader as we also discussed topics of legacy building and self care. On the final day of our conference we had our scholarship brunch. Every year NCNW collects money to give to two high school students that apply. The eboard member had the task of reading the applications and essays and deciding which girls we believed to be the best candidates for the scholarship. This is related to leadership in that leaders have the responsibility of allocating resources.

After we gave out our scholarships, we received words of wisdom from our keynote speaker for the brunch. She is a Howard Alum and a former member of NCNW Howard section, as she currently serves as the chief editor for Essence magazine. She gave us a very motivational speech about rising to challenges and walking in greatness in part to honor our inheritance of queenship. Or in other words to never give up or settle for less because of our recognition of the greatness and strength of our ancestors. And to be focused on continuing this legacy by establishing something positive in the world to leave to be inherited by those who will follow us. Specifically she expressed to us her goal to leave property to her children when she passes. This spoke to me specifically because I am unsure as to what career path I want to pursue, or where I will end up in the world , but I do know that one goal I refuse to fold on, to buy a few acres, build a house on them, and leave it to my kids debt free. She expressed to us the fact that wanting to leave a legacy behind means that there are things along the way that we mustn’t give in to, such as accepting lesser pay, or neglecting to receive our educations, or perpetuating the negative that the world tries to put onto us as black women.

Overall after meeting the scholarship recipients, and listening to the key note speaker and going to workshops to strengthen the balance of my five stories, I can truly say that the conference helped renew my strength and has helped me along my way as a leader.

Sunday. April 9. Home. 630–10pm

During this time I read the module “Who Runs the World? Girls!” One of my least favorite Beyonce songs but one of my favorite modules. In this module we again are reading the work of Plutarch (priest of apollo), “The Virtues of Women.” In the module we are told of the views of Thucydides by Clea (preistes of dionysus) that the virtue of women is found in their ability to be flies on the wall, to not be noticed or spoken of, or memorable. Plutarch on the other hand believes that the virtue of women is of the same value of men and that they should find honor in being spoken of and praised.

I do believe the virtues of women are equal in quality and quantity to the virtues of men certainly, although I believe them to be different. I believe that in the past it may have been a more positive thing to be spoken of very little, as women weren’t often put in positions for great stories unless they were doing behind the scenes work. They often fell into their roles in their society so if they were to be spoken about it would have most likely be in a negative way. But I certainly agree with Plutarch in instances of female leadership and stories of bravery and power there were instances and opportunities for women to challenge those original roles and make names for themselves based off of acts of honor and courage. Plutarch writes of women from Greece, Italy, Persia, Africa, Asia, and Spain.

First we are told the tale of the Trojan women, where they took the initiative to make a new settlement for the people, by taking away the option of continuously being at sea. The women longing and seeing the need for a stable home, burned the ships on which their people had been traveling . This forced their people into settling into the are in which they found themselves. The women decided to do this not out of hysteria but because they saw the value and potential in the are in which they found themselves and deemed it to be a good place to make a home out of. This to me speaks to the virtue of women to often times know what the community needs, before the community knows it needs it. And in personal relationships, to know what you need before you know you need it. The “trojan woman” figure in my life is my mother.

The Phocis women tale was a tale of great courage and honor. As they made the decision to set themselves and their children ablaze to keep them from being taken as slaves by their enemies. This tale was interesting to me because it was originally the vote of the men, but the men recognizing the severity of the sacrifice thought that the women should be included in the decision making process. Upon this decision they agreed that this was the best idea, and even the children, held a vote taking assembly and also decided this was the best idea. This is the first time we see women given the power of democracy within our studies of leadership. We see women using themselves to control the power held by the men around them but this is the first time we see women given real political power.

Another example of the tales told would be the tale of the Argos women who defended their homes against Cleomenes’ army, lead by Telesilla. This is the first example we see of women in military leadership.

The listening for leadership in the module asks you to take notice of the fact that Plutarch is concerned about how his works will be taken and interpreted due to the subject matter. It goes onto ask about what we think this reveals to us about the attitudes towards women in leadership of the time. It is quite obvious that it displays a negative and dismissive attitude towards women in leadership positions. People would have trouble taking his work seriously, because they at the time did not take women in leadership roles seriously.

Tuesday. April 11. Class.

During this class period we spoke about Civility in leadership. We were challenged to turn this question of leadership around on ourselves and ask ourselves if we surround ourselves with people that disagree with and challenge us. This came into the discussion of the fact that we often attach opinions and ideologies that we disagree with with negative character. This brought us into the discussion of “what is character?” and “What is civility?”

Sarah posed a question to Dr. S “what would you do if you found yourself in a friendship then came to find out the person you’ve become friends with has completely opposing views?” To which Dr. Sandridge explained his concept of a friend portfolio.

We then got into the topic of female leadership. We as a class came to the question “Are women seen as good leaders only when they’re man-like? or do they have leadership virtues of their own?”

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