Business Development

You Cannot Lead Anyone When You Need to Be Led

While there is a need for more non-profit organizations, everyone is not qualified to start and lead a non-profit organization.  Too many people are talking about starting a non-profit organization for the wrong reasons.  The people who are talking about forming non-profit organizations for the wrong reasons need to be led.  They don’t need to be presiding over anyone.  Some of the erroneous reasons people are talking about developing non-profit organizations are as follows: (1) simply because they are unemployed; (2) they are using discourse about starting a non-profit organization for self-aggrandizement; (3) starting a non-profit organization is the only thing they can think of to do; and (4) they need something to boost their self-esteem and this augmenting of their self-esteem has nothing to do with helping the people the organization is supposed to be founded to serve.

You have to have some qualifications, experience, skills, and accomplishments to lead people.  Traditional qualifications, experience, skills, and accomplishments are not always requisite to being able to lead people effectively, but your qualifications, experience, skills, and accomplishments must be genuine.  You cannot be an effective leader of an organization by just randomly thinking you are qualified to be a leader of an organization.  Leading, starting, and managing an effective non-profit organization is not easy.  In fact, it’s quite challenging.  If you don’t have a true love for helping people, then don’t talk about starting a non-profit organization.  Starting an effective non-profit organization is not something you can just jump up and do.  It’s also deeply offensive to the strenuous and thorough work that leaders of effective non-profit organizations do to pretend like you are serious about starting a non-profit organization when you know that you are going to do it.

For those Black men who don’t have a true commitment to launching non-profit ventures that focus on mentoring young Black males, don’t play with the serious need of mentoring young Black males simply for the vain purposes you are toying with starting a non-profit undertaking supposedly for them.  The need to ameliorate the lives of disadvantaged Black males is far too important for people to be playing around with.  For those who are attention hungry and simply see talking about starting a non-profit organization for Black males or youth in general, you need to understand that our children are too precious and important for you to attempt to use them for your own selfish gains.

We all need good people in our lives to provide us with support.  Many authentic leaders are among us.  It is vital, however, for those who are not leaders to understand that they are not leaders.  You know when you are not a leader and you know when you’re not willing to lead or don’t have what it takes to lead.  Everyone was not created to be a leader—face it!  Just as we need leaders to be great leaders, we need followers to be great followers.  The work of great leaders is significantly buttressed when they are able to benefit from great followers.

When you find yourself experiencing daily bouts with self-doubt and self-pity, the harsh reality is you are not ready and fit to lead.  There’s nothing wrong with knowing when you need to be led and when you are not ready and/or capable of leading.  It’s always critical for human beings to seek and embrace the truth, for this is the essence of what “being real” is.  Sorry to break the much needed news to you, but you don’t become a leader just by calling yourself one and pretending like you are one.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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