The Leader

Margaret Feingold, author of the Organic God, dropped a short note on her Facebook account today. It’s an old joke –

S. I. McMillen, in his book None of These Diseases, tells a story of a young woman who wanted to go to college, but her heart sank when she read the question on the application blank that asked, “Are you a leader?”

Being both honest and conscientious, she wrote, “No,” and returned the application, expecting the worst. To her surprise, she received this letter from the college:

“Dear Applicant: A study of the application forms reveals that this year our college will have 1,452 new leaders. We are accepting you because we feel it is imperative that they have at least one follower.”

Got me to thinking about what exactly a leader is. In the case of the university story, everybody says they’re a leader because it’s a requirement for admission. In reality, few people show true leadership: have a vision, communicate it, implement it.

Reminds of of one of my very favorite poems (and that says a lot since I don’t particularly care for poems), “The Leader” by Roger McGough:

The Leader

I wanna be the leader
I wanna be the leader

Can I be the leader?
Can I? I can?
Promise? Promise?

Yippee I’m the leader
I’m the leader

OK what shall we do?

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