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It's your community; everyone is equally responsible.

Due to PreferentialAttachment or VestedContributor, a charasmatic leader (maybe but not necessarily a DemaGogue) can become very popular with AdoringFans. Over time, a series of good decisions and prescient observations will make him trusted. If he contributes well to a project, the Wiki:HaloEffect may inappropriately grant his decisions more respect (e.g. Theo of OpenBSD). Some leaders may appreciate this CultOfPersonality? around them, especially since it is nearly free. They may have even started an online community for fame.

When the community or the public at large build the leader up to be larger than life, everything fails. The leader really does become a GodKing, qua he is now religiously in charge. He becomes a "cult" leader, so to speak.

SoftSecurity falls apart because the leader often has enough pull to act unilaterally to end a conflict, whereas others may need many people to act. This turns the leader into a hero, and suddenly people think the rightful person to intervene is the leader. The leader may feel this is necessary as, after all, he is the leader, but it is bad leadership to not give space for others to lead. The leader may occasionally misread the situation and the community response, and make decisions at odds with the community consensus. This really befuddles the community because they have very high expectations for their leader, so the reactions can be intense.

Those who the leader decides against may realize the leader is acting alone. This opens the leader up to AntiAuthoritarian attacks. Questions that he is mistakingly talking in the RoyalWe arise, and suddenly the community is asked to intervene. Hopefully they will actually show support for the leader. If they do not, the leader's authority is undermined. However, this creates a power vacuum that the community is not prepared to fill as they feel this encroaches on the leader's territory. This may be a legimate concern if the leader makes it clear he does not like others encroaching on his territory.

Fights against the ReveredLeader as considered fights against God. This makes it impossible for some to criticize the leader, and thus BarnRaising falls apart. The leader may feel annoyed that he should be treated equally, or he may feel alone if no one disagrees with him, or he may feel encouraged by yes men (RewardReputation). If the ReveredLeader agrees, discussion may end because obviously that is the way to go.

If the ReveredLeader disagrees, though, the weight of this may be perceived as crushing. The less emotionally secure may feel invalidated. They will take this very personally, and start to question the ReveredLeader's role as leader. How the leader reacts to this is typifying of the leader; a fame hunter will take it personally, and he will enter a death spiral with the unstable as he will continuously invalidate him and therefore receive more blowback. If the leader is weak, she might shrink back and lose authority to the unstable entity, which hurts the community because they are also filled with weak people unable to stop this process. If the leader is fairly wise, he will ignore the person (DissuadeInteraction).

A ReveredLeader will become the target and LightningRod of hostile forces: forks, trolls, vandals, spammers, flamers, stalkers and OutcastNewcomers. That is, you have given that individual more VulnerabilityToCommunity than anyone else. Coupled with the community's lack of desire to take responsibility for itself (as they have delegated it to the ReveredLeader), this puts the ReveredLeader into a DeathSpiral? defending the community and himself. This will lead quickly to leader burnout, and associations in that person's mind that the community is negativity that could be best be done without in life. However, someone has to maintain the integrity of the community lest it dies. That someone should be TheCollective. Without TheCollective, the ReveredLeader will take increasingly powerful steps to stay the escalating disintegration of the community; and those steps themselves will further the disintegration of the community. Constructing a ReveredLeader thus undermines the community from the front and back: by causing TheCollective to abrogate its responsibility and therefore bonding and cohesion; by making the community vulnerable to attacks and attempts to disrupt it.

DissuadeReputation does not always work. Being pointedly ignored may be felt like the hand of god is oppressing them. This will result in claims the leader is a fascist, nazi, Stalinist, cult leader, asshole, or ReveredLeader. At this point, the community has to be very careful what they do. This is usually the first sign of a stalker (Cf. WhatIsaStalker) who will make it their life obsession to crush your leader and community. There is no way out of this; you will have to deal with this forever. That's penance. It's your fault for ascribing reverance to a human being. This reverance is a natural target for PoliticalAction and obsession. LimitTemptation.

Therefore, don't create ReveredLeaders! DissuadeReputation! Don't make PublicMonument?s to your leader, like pages of kudos. Don't give him nicknames like boss. Don't quote him in your signatures. Don't forget your leader is another human being just like you. This is the Internet: he probably is a dog.

Most critically,

Treat your leader like the FirstServant, not like a GodKing.

You cannot be a team without communicating. Talk to your leader. FairProcess doesn't work in silence. The leader's understanding of the community's values will become further and further divorced from reality unless everyone is open about what they think. Otherwise, decisions really are unauthoritative.

The leader's role is only to facilitate the decision making process, not make the decisions herself.

Yet decisions often have to be made anyway, so don't complain afterwards if your views are not represented. Rather, complain before the decision is made. Better, make the decision yourself and propose it to the community. Remember,

It's your community; everyone is equally responsible.

If you are a ReveredLeader despite your best efforts to be chill, don't encourage reverence. But don't discourage it either. People will react very negatively to having their compliments rejected. Just politely acknowledge it and move on; erase it if you can. Hint that you are a ReveredLeader. Empower other leaders, DevolvePower, be humble. Give up territory. Stop posting, or post pseudonymously or anonymously. Work through others, stand back and let those of like mind say your piece for you. Support them only if necessary. Delegate responsibility. Do anything to devolve attention.

If you revere a leader, please remember she is human. She is not anything you think she is. You have probably killed any hope of extracting value from that leader by projecting a false perception that will tie her hands forever. You are creating an environment that will attract unwanted attention in the wrong places (cf. LimitTemptation). It's basically lying to assume your leader is anything other than just who she is.

Remember, we all must lead by our hands, hearts, and minds. Our authority comes only insomuch that others suffer us. A ReveredLeader additionally has her reputation to gain authority. Once the leader loses the important check and balance of a real community, he will lose any ability to judge what is right or wrong, and he will lose the important advice he needs to sharpen actual decisions.

A leader is really only someone who is articulate, empathetic, and very good at process. These are skills, not divine powers.


Not to beat up too greatly on Ward alone,

Solutions for leaders

The sad reality is that you will most likely do nothing and then go crazy. Since OnlineCommunities are not very important in the grand scheme of life, you are not likely motivated to make complex political decisions that would severely alter the status quo of the site. Then the community has only one option, and that is to StartAgain, and that is a waste of time and energy. This is why it is necessary for the entire community to act together to solve this problem, because then administering to the community's needs might remain pleasant and enjoyable enough to keep it going.

Can you tell if you are ReveredLeader or a ReviledLeader?? Once you enter the death spiral, you become reviled, and there is no way out because the community will not ForgiveAndForget even if they scream at you to do so yourself. The problem is PreferentialAttachment, or super-attention. Everyone has to back off and actually do something to help him instead of pressuring him harder and harder to bend in ways no human can. He is not superhuman, and he cannot do everything himself, so if you don't want to be helpful, at least don't be harmful. Better to exercise your RightToLeave quickly than ratchet up the conflict with more pressure. Or else down the death spiral everyone will go.

The answer is no, simply because the community is not willing to talk to you.


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