16 September 2015

Don’t hold back when you groom

This is the forty sixth in a series of articles on rebels and rebellion written for the FREE section of 'The Nation'. Scroll to the end for other articles in this series.  'FREE' is dedicated to youth and youthfulness.

Sometimes people become rebels when they join a rebellion.  It’s almost as if it is the association with other rebels more than anything else that makes them deserving of the tag ‘rebel’.  It’s as if they’ve not given too much thought to what’s happening around them or that they didn’t see reason to object to anything until they chanced upon a set of objectors.  

Of course, such people don’t always blindly join a group of rebels. They must at some level identify with the objectives and ideally with the methods used.  Friendship or any other relationship is the most trivial (and even dangerous) reason to become a rebel.  

Sometimes people find that their radicalization takes a sharp upward swing once they get involved.  So what is important, purely from the point of view of achieving objectives, is less the reasons for joining than the transformations inscribed in a person by his or her associates, circumstances, experiences and the readiness to reflect on these.  

Now suppose you were different from most new recruits.  Suppose you gave it a lot of thought.  Suppose, unlike recent recruits, you set off on this journey when it was generally held to be a stupid decision, when there were few ready to travel with you or worse, you travelled alone.  

One of the most difficult thing for a rebel leader to do is to understand that ego can get in the way of achieving an objective.  If you find that someone who joined the movement after you did has a better grasp of everything, what do you do?  What if he or she, regardless of age or experience or time in the movement, is a better strategist, a better orator and a better leader?  What do you do with him or her?  Or, more correctly, what do you do with yourself?  

We encounter this frequently.  It could be in a school club, a sports team, a group of adventurers or a bunch of rebels.  There are ‘late-comers’ who, despite their ‘newness’, are more suited for the job of leading the group.  This is where leadership is tested.  

A newcomer might not be immediately ready to assume leadership.  However, he or she may clearly show leadership potential.  You might even be the first to notice.  Indeed the business of grooming that person might become your responsibility.  What would you do if you realize that grooming such an individual might lead to your position in the organization coming under threat?  Would you invite such an eventuality by helping the person who might very well replace you?  Could you suffer taking orders from someone you’ve once issued instructions to?  

It’s a tough situation because generous as rebels are, selfless though they may be, they are also human and therefore have egos.  As a ‘senior’ or perhaps as ‘The Leader’ you could throw obstacles in the way of someone’s progress up the decision-making ladder of the organization.  You can make sure that it is extra hard for him to demonstrate ability.  

It’s a simple question, really:  what’s more important, your struggle or your stature?  The rebel with integrity will do his or her best to develop the resources at hand.  He or she will recognize that a skilled young man or woman, if nurtured to the point that the ‘nurturer’ might be displaced, might deliver victories that he or she could only hope to achieve.

You got to groom them, regardless of personal cost.  That’s what would make you a different kind of rebel.  No, in fact, that’s what would make you a rebel in the first place. 

Other articles in this series