Domoguen: This thing called obsession among leaders

Mountain Light

IF YOU are a leader and obsessed with your work and goals, maybe it is time, you slow down and take a second look if you have the right people behind your back.

Or maybe, you are breaking other people's emotions with your leadership style.

I had it in me once, and it earned me an interesting label on my person -toxic.

I did not like that impression any single bit, and I did not understand.

All I knew is that we got some work to do and we must do it well.

It can be frustrating if we are not helping ourselves in this direction.

Those were the times when I start criticizing - sometimes excessive and redundant.

In my mind, some people are but imbeciles, sorry, “that is the dark side of leadership and its obsessions.”

I am not saying that to justify an obsessively compulsive toxic leadership style. I have worked with leaders who drive their subordinates to the edge of the organizational cliff, and it is just too bad. But this is something we all need to learn if we must work well together.

When I was promoted and effectively removed from a leadership role, I started to read a book entitled, “Masters of Command (Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar) and the Genius of Leadership.”

It was a discovery for me to know from these ancient leaders that obsession was a key denominator to their success and greatness as a leader.

They were obsessed with their ambition, an idea, purpose or vision.

They are part of what Abraham Lincoln once called, “the tribe of the eagle.” They burned and thirsted for distinction, honor, and to be first. It is how they visualize and perceived themselves and is the ethos of their leadership campaign.

Yet they did not merely have a vision or simply believe in it. They were possessed by that vision. They lived and breathed their vision and idea of who they are, day in and day out.

In their obsession and a great thirst for honor, “each of them, in his own way was scaling Mount Everest.”

Alexander, “the king of little Macedon was not meant to conquer the vast Persian empire,” and the known world then.

Gaius Julius Caesar, the governor of Gaul was not supposed to topple the powerful Roman Senate and its armies.

“And it was unimaginable that the Carthaginian commander of Southern Spain will cross both river and mountain (the Alps) and invade Italy.

According to self-made millionaire Grant Cardone, "Be obsessed or be average." These ancient leaders dared to do what could not be done and succeeded.

The leader is the most committed, most determined, most confident, most concentrated. He makes the most of the sacrifices, takes the first initiatives, and confronted with great difficulties, he yet recharges his powers and finds the will to carry on.

Hannibal was obsessed with taking the Romans down. It led him to do the unthinkable.

After crossing the Pyrenes and the Rhone, and to evade Roman Expeditionary forces and advantages, Hannibal took his army of war elephants across the Alps in a death-dealing journey.

Told of the impossibility of crossing the Alps with a great army, Hannibal is said to have declared, "I will either find a way or make one."

Ultimately, taking the Romans down was a purpose that he sacrificed his life for.

Alexander the Great was obsessed with self-glory and conquering Persia to avenge the Persian invasion of Greece and destruction of Greek temples.

Critics of strong leadership and labeling its practitioners as toxic and destructive would perhaps say that this is the modern age and this discourse should find no place in it.

But they are wrong. I discovered several modern time leaders who are also obsessed and they have done so much good.

Steve Job was the co-founder of Apple Computers and a key figure in the development of its famous products: the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. He was obsessed with perfection, and clean, aesthetically pleasing design. To some folks, this was the disruptive dark side of his triumphs.

Captivated by computers at a young age, Bill Gates spent endless hours throughout the years working from his garage, developing coding and programming, and learning how to create a solution with global reach.

I have worked in a number of offices and government agencies and known a number of so-called perfectionists, driven, possessed, and relentless workaholic bosses. I should have called them out as toxic bosses or leaders. But I have since discovered they are human beings who just need my best work.

On the other hand, frightened by the dark side of our bosses, we cannot help but continue to debate after a few drinks in our watering holes, if they are fully human, of our world, or offspring of Stalin, if not Lucifer, ad infinitum.

To be sure, I am not a descendant of an evil ancestor. But by my own experience, we are all leaders, can become leaders, but when we get there, we need to balance our obsessions with those things that are rightfully possible, and being sensitive with fragile vessels. Oh hell, we are fragile at some moments and tough as steel, in other moments. We need to become wise.

Meantime, I have since shorn the pursuit of leadership in my life like it is a bad idea.


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