How To Be The Charismatic Leader of Any Group

by Eric Disco
Apr 11

All my life I’ve had a distaste for power.

I’ve always loved the concept of equality.

I’m an artist. I’m a punk. I hate authority. I always hated the idea that others have power over me.

Beyond a formal structure like my boss at work, I always sensed that in social situations certain people had power.

In any group, in any social situation, no matter how informal, there was always someone that seemed to control the group.

There was always a person in the group from whom everyone took cues.

Everyone looked to that person for direction, to see where the interaction was going, to find out what the group was about to do next.

A leader, so to speak.

And it was never me.

In the rare instances that it was, I felt uncomfortable with it. I didn’t like to have that power.

I could follow. But I couldn’t lead.

And I never liked that. I hated the idea that people had power over me.

So I would shrink away to my lonely space and work on art or whatever else fulfilled me in non-social ways.

I didn’t think there could be any changing that.

It made me want to deny it existed, mostly because I didn’t know how it worked or how it could be changed.

What I didn’t know, was that geometry occurs naturally in groups. It’s an inherent behavior like flinching when someone throws a rock at your face, or blushing when you get embarrassed.

Groups naturally organize themselves into a system of MUTUAL DEPENDENCE.

Field studies of chimpanzees and other mammals like wolves, have given us quite a bit of insight into how this works.

Among chimpanzees, each group has at least one calm, self-assured adult ape of either sex and one or more nervous and more dependent animals, also of either sex.

Margaret Power in The Cohesive Foragers: Human and Chimpanzee writes

Nervous, potentially dependent chimpanzees may also be distinguished by their behavior. They have opposite personalities and temperaments to the calmer, more assured chimpanzees. They tend to be unsure, hesitant, less trusting, and more quickly aroused to aggression.

Yerkes, writing of the contrasting temperaments of a pair of captive infant chimpanzees, reports that one was bold, alert and eager for new experiences, even-tempered, good-natured, and remarkable for his observational ability, intelligence and great delight in “showing off.” The other was quite the opposite, being “timid, nervous, hesitant before anything novel or new.” In unfamiliar situations, the confident ape took the lead and the timid one followed. The contrasting temperaments and/or personality qualities are functionally complimentary in the mutualistic charismatic-dependent role relationship.

Jane Goodall’s studies of chimps in 1977 found that one of the males, dubbed David Greybeard, was the charismatic leader of the group. He was “unhurried and trusting with an air of natural dignity.” He moved in a leisurely fashion “often pausing to greet, reassure, and calm with a touch, other apparently less assured chimpanzees.”

His lack of fear soothed the more nervous apes.

It has been found that beyond quelling social conflict like fighting for food and mates, the leader-follower status is beneficial to all those in an organization. In fact it can be consider the very glue that holds the social fabric of group living together.

The charismatic-dependent relationship is adaptive toward keeping subgroups together as they range, foraging. If all members of a subgroup were equally self-assured, there would be more of a tendency for each individual to go it’s own way, and a lone animal or human is usually more vulnerable to attack.

The more nervous, easily aroused, dependent chimpanzees, through their quick response to disturbance in the group or to danger from without, act to alert the less easily aroused, less observant, charismatic members. One or more of the confident individuals then respond to the situation, backed by the support of the more dependent members. Thus the response is more by group consensus than leader-initiated.

There’s no question to me, that if I had my choice, I’d rather be the leader than the follower. Among the many benefits of being a leader, is that you get laid like a rock star. Literally.

Aside from the sexual aspect of this, IT JUST FEELS BETTER to be calm and self-assured in any group situation. There is so much less stress.

I have experienced being both a follower and a leader.

I’ve been that guy that sat there in the middle of a group, locked-up and unable to open my mouth out of fear of saying the wrong thing.

I wanted to make jokes and be part of the fun, but my lack of self-confidence wiped my mind clean like a blank slate.

To me, a huge part of getting past this was to be willing to fuck it up, over and over.

I made it okay for myself to say something stupid and “not funny.”

How to go from zero hero?

Firstly, allow yourself to screw up.Still open your mouth as often as possible. Be kind to yourself as you grow and learn.

Take the lead in as many situations as possible. It’s fucking scary at first. There are many reasons why people don’t take the lead. They don’t want to RISK doing the wrong thing, screwing it up, and taking the brunt of the criticism and negative evaluation from the group.

When you take the lead, you become more self-assured. Why? You begin to predict pretty well what will happen next. YOU CAN SEE THE FUTURE. You can see the future because you are creating it. You are the one putting it into action.

Become confident. Sure, more easily said than done. My definition of confidence is I DID IT YESTERDAY, I CAN DO IT AGAIN TODAY.

It takes small steps every day. Take the initiative to talk to people around you. Walk up to that girl today, and tomorrow it will be easier.

Fake it till you make it. Find out what makes a guy confident. Okay, he walks slowly and moves deliberately instead of fidgeting like a child. That’s one aspect of it. When your body is acting confident, you feel confident. When your behavior is doing things that are unconfident, you feel less confident.

Find someone that you can model. If you need to watch DVDs or take a workshop, there are guys out there that know how to do this stuff. They can POSITIVELY help you to be that leader. People in your life that tear you down, get rid of them.

People will not just all of a sudden consider you a leader over night. Learning to be the leader is about taking initiative and being able to handle risk. It is about learning how to deal with your own fear. The only way to do that is to take initiative, over and over.

Walking up to that girl you don’t know and talking to her CHANGES YOU FUNDAMENTALLY AS A PERSON. If you fear talking to people you don’t know and begin doing it, your dating life, social life, and inner state of being will change for the better far more than you can imagine.

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posted in Initiative and Inhibition, Self-Improvement Strategies

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