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Leaders are not born, they're created… literally in the case of fiction, created by creators of comics, books, movies, and other media! For this Quackcast I was inspired by two things: a video on Leader Characters by the satirical YouTube channel Terrible Writing Advice, and the Disney movie Lightyear, in which the lone wolf classical hero figure learns how to lead.
Lots of traits are useful for leadership: Charisma, experience, age, rank, communication skill, empathy, compassion, dominance, and confidence among others, and different styles of leadership work better in different contexts. Take for example the military paradigm of the lieutenant and the sergeant - a lieutenant is typically the lowest ranking commissioned officer, they're a beginner. They're young and they're not experienced but they outrank enlisted men and non-commissioned officers who might have more experience than them. The sergeant is usually one of the highest ranking “non-commissioned officers”, they're usually older than the lieutenant, who outranks them, and they have a LOT more experience. This creates an interesting leadership dynamic- the lieutenant learns from the sergeant but they also lead in a different way from them. The sergeant is better at leading the soldiers and knowing what to do from a practical standpoint while the lieutenant is better at theory and interpreting with higher level orders, eg. “Our orders say we have to take that hill and meet up with the other squad near the river at this map reference, so I want to split the squad…” etc While sergeant will actually be able put all that into practice a lot better than the lieutenant could.
- (Said by a non-military person, so this could be very wrong)
Fiction is full of leaders, good and bad. Most Scifi tends to have a military influence so it all has a very familiar military hierarchical setup. Star Trek is especially known for its “good” leaders, who're inspiring, clever, brave, full of empathy, experienced, and wise. The perfect foil to them is Zapp Brannigan from Futurama who was specifically created to be the anti-Star Trek type leader with all the very worst traits that any leader could ever have. He's a horrible person, sacrifices troops meaninglessly, has a poor grasp of strategy, and takes advantage of his position for self-gratification and self-aggrandizement, all of which makes him beautifully entertaining as a character! He's one of my fave leaders in fiction, on a par with the 90s Star Trek leaders Jean-Luc Picard, Captain Benjamin Sisko , and Captain Kathryn Janeway.
Leadership is a huge subject with lots of other aspects. Politics is a massive subsection in its own right! And we can't forget that it's the followers who actually give the leader power and if they choose to desert then that power can vanish… We cover all this and more in the Quackcast. Who're your fave fictional leaders and why?
This week Gunwallace has given us a theme to The Waves Inside - Clear ocean. Orange blue pink. Liquid metal swells. A calming, hypnotic synth journey over 1000 kilometers of smoothly textured sea.
Topics and shownotes
Terrible Writing Advice, Leader Characters - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lawvXdBYlAI
Mydan Post Beginnings - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2022/aug/09/featured-comic-mydan-post-beginnings/
The Waves Inside - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/The_Waves_Inside/ - by TheJagged, rated M.
Special thanks to:
Gunwallace - http://www.virtuallycomics.com
Tantz Aerine - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Tantz_Aerine/
Ozoneocean - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/ozoneocean
PitFace - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/PIT_FACE/
Banes - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Banes/
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Quackcast 596 - Leadership!Ozoneocean at 12:00AM, Aug. 16, 2022
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PaulEberhardt at 7:10AM, Aug. 18, 2022
Opinions about what makes a good leader vary. For instance, I've always considered Janeway to be rather dreadful, but that may be because of one or two real-life persons she reminds me of. Voyager may draw a different picture, but take it from me: serving under someone like that can be deeply frustrating. --- Btw. I'll second bravo1102: a lot of people want to be led. It's especially interesting in teaching, where you supposed to make your students less dependent on someone leading them as they get older, while at the same time you still have to make abundantly clear that you're the boss, no matter how much or little they depend on you...
bravo1102 at 8:37AM, Aug. 16, 2022
I never believed leaders were necessary and then I found out I was one. For some unfathomable reason people turn to me for leadership and I have trouble deciding what socks to wear in the morning. They're all black and I can't decide and there I am in a crisis naturally barking out orders. Never put me in charge of anything, I'll end up getting everyone to do their jobs anyway and people will ask me why I'm not in charge. Yeah, that's leadership.
marcorossi at 4:47AM, Aug. 16, 2022
I think that the "leader" is just the one who acts the way the underlings expect the leader to act, honestly. The fact that people do search for leaders is one of the weirdest features of humankind IMHO.
bravo1102 at 3:18AM, Aug. 16, 2022
Roddenberry based the paradigm of starbship command on a blend of naval tradition and his own experience flying bombers in WW2. He actually had commanded a "ship" even if was only a B-24 bomber.
Ozoneocean at 2:20AM, Aug. 16, 2022
Kirk and Riker were amorous fellows, as was Paris from Voyager, but Zapp takes that to a deliberate extreme by coming onto every single female creature constantly and even obviously hinting at forced encounter s 😅 He makes any Star Trek leader Lok like Mr Rogers 😂
dpat57 at 2:07AM, Aug. 16, 2022
Fun reading! The Trek universe is full of maniacs given command, you don't need to jump dimensions to find extremes like Zapp Brannigan. Although, Zapp did tup Leela. Kirk or Riker never got to carve that sweet notch on their bedposts.