How to be a leader – lessons from 2020

Now that you’ve conquered banana bread and sourdough babies, participated in social justice by uploading a black square, and made it halfway through 2020, it’s time to set another goal for yourself: become a leader.

Now you may ask, how are you qualified to give advice on this topic? Have you been in any leadership position? Well, it doesn’t matter. As this post will show you, one does not need any qualification to be qualified. Or knowledge on the subject matter. What does one need? An overly inflated ego with no shame, an authoritarian streak (or government if you can get hold of that), and friends in high places.

While 2020 has been a tumultuous year so far, with one calamity after one another, the year has also been good at showing us the varying degrees of statesmanship around the globe. Having spent a considerable amount of time during lockdown reading the news*, I have compiled a simple 6-steps-plan based on industry best practices. Follow these steps, and I guarantee you will become the best leader of our times.

(*Pro tip: Wanting to cut down on caffeine but can’t wake up or function without it in the morning? Skip coffee, or even breakfast. Instead, consume as much news as you can the first instant you wake up. Let the anxiety and despair fuel you instead.)

Photo taken from a leadership round table in the Davos conference, pre-covid

Step 1 – Get the job

To be a leader, it is imperative that you are in a position that gives you the power and the responsibility to lead. So what’s the best way to get there, especially in this job market where there are plenty of equally (over) qualified candidates? As Jared Kushner’s ascent to the position of senior advisor to the President of the United States has shown us, nepotism is the best, tried and tested way to get yourself in a role with power, responsibilities and recognition.

Rather than polishing your CV, learning new skills and believing in self-development – after all, Jared Kushner has ‘managed’ to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, tackle the opioid crisis, run a coronavirus task force despite having no experience or expertise in any of those areas –  now is the time to either marry well (I recommend high ranking politicians, billionaires or their favoured family members*), or discover that you are in fact the child of a high ranking politician, billionaire or their favoured family members, then ask for a high-ranking position.

*For a list of prospective suitors, please contact Jeffrey Epstein or Ghislaine Maxwell

Step 2 – Know your stuff, or look like you do

To be a leader, one must give the impression of competence, or the illusion thereof. While common sense would dictate that knowing your stuff is the sensible way to go about it, 2020 has shown us the contrary: sounding smart would suffice. There are two ways to achieve this desired effect:

  1. Use a lot of words and construct lengthy sentences that don’t mean much; especially useful for situations where you want to be evasive. Take Rishi Sunak, the UK Chancellor;  when asked about the government’s decision making process on the 2-metre social distancing rule, replied with convoluted nonsense that includes the insightful observation ‘advisors advise’.  
  1. Reference someone who’s smarter, more respected, or famous than you. And if you actually don’t know a thing about this person, make things up. Bonus points: people might admire you for your creativity as well. The Hong Kong Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, when facing the accusation of political intervention when an exam question on Sino-Japanese history was scrapped, responded with a made-up quote by South Africa’s late president Nelson Mandela.  With the backing of Mandela, who would even dare question your arguments or actions, no matter how deplorable they are?

Now, not only have you attained a leadership role (step 1), you also look the part. Congratulations!

Step 3 – Be spontaneous and agile (read: ill-prepared)

But being a leader is not without trials and tribulations. Every now and then, you will be beset with crises that test your leadership skills and cause others to lose their confidence in you. You may ask, what’s the best way to anticipate and respond to crises? Crisis plan? Emergency preparedness? 

But as the saying ‘the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry’ suggests, being prepared is way overrated. As it stands, you should follow the UK government’s approach during the Covid-19 pandemic, which is incidentally the fashionable way of doing things these days: be agile and iterative

I mean, why would you do any planning on the economic impact on a country caused by a pandemic when you can draw up responses on the fly and rework them several times during a lockdown instead? After all, you’d have all the time now (even after making all the sourdough things you can think of ); and the economy was virtually shut down, so the only way it could hypothetically go is up. 

Step 4 – Ignore the haters: positive vibes only

When you are in a position of power and doing important things, it is inevitable there will be oppositional voices. People doubting your brilliance, criticising your ideas, questioning your competence… This is 2020, and quite frankly, more negativity is the last thing we’d need. When it comes to haters, it is important to either ignore them, or better yet, silence them. 

To do the latter, authoritarianism is the recommended tool that will help you to achieve this goal. 

You can either do it the Brazil (represented by Bolsonaro) or the US (represented by Trump) way, where you fire anyone who dares question you. After all, we all know social distancing, wearing a mask and admitting that covid-19 might not be the same as the flu are for the weak (or non-athletes, according to Bolsonaro), right? 

Alternatively, you can get rid of people you might not like or agree with preemptively. Just learn from China and pass a law that is so vague and all-encompassing that it would apply to everyone on earth and perhaps even aliens from other planets, with the goal to stifle all oppositional voices to the extent you can even ban schools from playing songs that affect one’s emotions. (On the bright side, maybe there’s finally somewhere we can go to avoid drunk people singing Mr Brightside at the top of their lungs, or toddlers demanding Baby Shark for the 100th time in an hour).

Step 5 – Celebrate success of your stellar leadership

Well, now that you’ve completed steps 1-4, it’s time to celebrate your many successes, real or imagined. Remember, you can define what success means. In fact, if you haven’t achieved any success as defined by conventional standards, just rebrand your failures as successes. Take Jared Kushner, who despite the rising covid-19 case numbers and death tolls, proclaimed the government’s pandemic response (which he led) was a ‘great success story’. Mind-boggling, right? Well, not in 2020!

In short, ignore (and make up) facts and figures, and change any established targets at any time so you can maintain your success story. Proceed to tell people how successful you are. Success!

Step 6 – Stay in your leadership position forever

If by this point you’ve taken a liking to the job and would like to stay in the role for a while, or forever (I mean, the economy isn’t too rosy at the moment), then by all means take a page out of Russia’s books. 

Just follow Putin’s footsteps, and throw a (most likely) bogus referendum to ensure you can stay in power until eternity (or 2036), while at the same time maintaining the appearance of popular support (which could be needed depending on how successfully you complete steps 4 and 5).

Voila! With this simple 6-step plan, you’ve now succeeded in becoming a successful leader (i.e. dictator). Now grab some champagne and celebrate. And remember, when it comes to the haters, just shake them off… or imprison them!


Disclaimer: we are not liable for any negative consequences you might encounter from following the plan, or taking the advice from the post above

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