Follow the Leader to Follow Your Heart

Janelle Monáe on Being a Positive, Powerful Influence & Inspiration:

I have a responsibility to my community. I have a responsibility to tell the universe a story in an unforgettable way. I really want to open doors for all those starting to have their voice…. I want to speak to my cousins who are still in Kansas and feel like they don’t have anyone; I want to speak to the young lady who is trying to understand who she is and how she’s going to follow her dreams living in a disadvantaged environment. […] I want to present a different perspective of what it means to be a strong woman, and I just hope to be an inspiration to the next generation of girls, to help them define what makes them unique and what makes them special (Canada, 2013).

Role model Janelle Monáe proposes change in societal norms of followers and leaders. Applying her referent power of admiration and respect via her remarkable methods, she employs a persuasive campaign to change the attitudes and behaviors of all who can appreciate her beautiful voice and ambitions. She challenges her audience to join her social movement to propose change in societal norms to be unique as a follower and as a leader.

Janelle Monáe’s persuasive campaign for people to stand out to gain happiness of freedom and power demonstrates the eight characteristics that Everett Rogers and Douglas Storey identify of successful campaigns. The eight features are to:
pretest messages and identify market segments,
exposing a large segment of the audience to clear campaign messages,
most accessible media for target groups,
use the media to raise awareness,
rely on interpersonal messages to lead to and reinforce behavior change,
direct messages at the individual needs of the audience, and
emphasize positive rewards rather than prevention (Hackman & Johnson, 2009).

Janelle Monáe expresses these characteristics of successful campaigns by expressing herself for others to express themselves with her lifestyle as a famous music artist. In an interview, she says, “I represent for the have-nots… I don’t think that I make music for Kings and Queens (Oakes, 2010).” She tailors her message for her target audience by recognizing and utilizing the influence of captivating songs to employ an accessible positive message for her audience with her popular song, ‘Tightrope.’ She clarifies the meaning of this main memo through verbal and nonverbal language of lyrics, interviews, dance, and fashion. As a leader, she persuades with the strength and access of media to raise awareness for the people. “Every time you step outside you’re dealing with life and you’re trying to stay sane, for a lack of better words. Balance, to me, is the key; not getting too high, not getting too low – that’s what ‘Tightrope’ represents. It’s like life’s tutorial on how to actually make it through life without becoming insane and driving yourself to a life full of hatred and just not wanting to be here (Oakes, 2010).” She leads to and reinforces behavior change with the referent power of her role model position to many, particularly those with similar social backgrounds, and also with credible sources. In her song, she makes credible references commit to the task at hand with her own success of walking on a thin line as herself in the music industry and to the success of Philippe Petit tightroping between the twin towers of the World Trade Centre Tightrope Between the Towers, n.d.). She directs messages to the needs of individuals for their personal freedom and power to thrive, as a positive reward. With utilization of the eight characteristics of successful campaigns through her music, she challenges everyone to improve as a follower to spread the catchy message as their own leader.

In elaboration of the phrase “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link,” I personally believe that the whole chain is meaningless if the clasp is not dependable. Janelle Monáe is a model of a strong leader and a strong clasp with how she believes and directly applies messages that she instills. It is ethical and integral for followers to depend on the leader and their message to connect perfectly. Janelle Monáe successfully establishes this with uniquely expressing herself about the importance of unique expression. A personal application behind this expression of myself in a unique way is through my favorite medium of duct tape. As a statement of repurposing an idea and product, I create functional duct tape art to create projects ranging from duct tape wallets to temporarily redirecting a ceiling leak to a prom dress. I choose to express myself in a unique way to show people to reconsider societal norms and alternatives. This way of life really sticks to me, but frees me with creativity and encourages others to express themselves in their unique way. Applications of this information can be utilized for everyone, followers and leaders alike to better themselves and better the world.


Canada, E. (2013, January 10). Janelle Monae: “I Want Them To Focus On My Music, Not My Body”. Clutch Magazine. Retrieved February 22, 2013, from

Hackman, M. Z., & Johnson, C. E. (2009). Public Leadership.Leadership: a communication perspective(5 ed., pp. 284-288). Long Grove, Ill.: Waveland Press.

Oakes, M. G. (2010, May 10). Janelle Monae: The Meaning Of ‘Tightrope’. Soul Culture. Retrieved February 22, 2013, from

Tightrope Between the Towers. (n.d.). New York: The Center of the World . WGBH American Experience | PBS. (n.d.). PBS: Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved March 21, 2013, from


Do You Rock?

What is ethics?
Ethics is the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation (Ethics, n.d.). There are many factors associated with being ethical like integrity, honesty, fidelity, charity, and responsibility. The key factor of being ethical is intention. Intent driven with the aim to enrich the welfare of all, including oneself, is ethical. Many argue that being ethical should exclude the self-benefit (to prevent indulgence in excessive selfish behavior), but it is a prevalent distortion that being ethical is self-sacrifice while it is the enlightening of self-interest. The difference between self-sacrifice and self-interest is the former is punishment while the latter is nourishing. This distortion of ethics must be clarified so that ethical people should not feel the societal norm of immorality when enjoying the standards of moral conduct. Another distortion of ethics is that the result is more important than the intent. As Muhammad believed, “All actions are judged by the motives prompting them.” To elaborate on this quote, human behavior is imperfect and should not be criticized as bad for faults if the intention is good. The only true mistakes in life are the ones that one does not transform into a lesson.

Why is ethics important to leadership?
Why was Russia was slow to recover after World War II? They kept Stalin around!
All jokes aside, the importance of ethical leadership is the importance of ethics of an individual but magnified because of the power and influence of the leader. Throughout history, the negative impact of unethical leadership is prevalent, like the repression of Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler. Conversely, positive impact of ethical leadership can be seen with efforts of Bill Gates and benevolent projects like the Giving Pledge (a commitment by the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy.)

With knowledge of ethics and the importance of ethical leadership, it is useful to utilize the components of ethical behavior. According to James Rest and his colleagues at the Center for the Study of Ethical Development at the University of Minnesota, ethical behavior is the product of four intrapersonal and interpersonal communication processes. The four components of ethical behavior to help our performance and our followers include: moral sensitivity, moral judgment, moral motivation, and moral character (Hackman & Johnson, 2009). The first component of moral sensitivity is recognition of a moral problem. This initial element is critical to acknowledge a problem so that one may remedy it. As a leader, it is important to highlight and address the issues. As a follower, it is important to participate with communication and understanding of the problem. The second component of moral judgment is assessment of the problem’s solution to be moral. For many, determining the application of moral conduct is difficult. As a leader and follower and outside, it is important to communicate from all possible perspectives. The third component of moral motivation is the perseverance via the ethical choice when it conflicts with disruptive values (like wealth). As a leader and a follower, it is important to respect and appreciate the other to improve the teamwork toward the shared dream work. The fourth component of moral character is the implementation stage of the model (Hackman & Johnson, 2009). As a leader, it is important to lead the followers for action driven with ethical intent to make the necessary change in this world. Unfortunately, many leaders and followers are unethical and they would individually benefit and others would benefit with better understanding ethical behavior and its importance.


Hold or Roll by Manly Grant from Rhymes for the Land

Rocks hold firm while water’s might
Sends pebbles rolling left and right.
Call pebbles rock? Set firm their goal?
First flash flood, still pebbles roll.
Not name, nor goal divide the two.
It’s how they act. It’s what they do.
Size dictates to stone, but you’re in control.
Are you rock or pebble? Will you hold or roll?

Why should you be ethical?
It is important to rock with ethical awesomeness to enhance the world around you to be as ethically awesome. It is important to not rock with an unstable moral foundation. As Manly Grant poetically illustrates, being strongly embedded with the size and strength of a sturdy character is critical to withstand the floods of the mainstream. This can relate to ethical leadership and followership by firming the goals with morals to strengthen the size and weight of importance to control and hold with actions against the unsettling conflicts. To put it simply, you should be ethical in this unethical world to be the change you wish to see.


Ethics. (n.d.). Merriam-Webster Online. Retrieved April 8, 2013, from

Grant, M. (2010, July 17). Will you Hold or Roll?. Reehab’s Ramblings. Retrieved April 8, 2013, from

Hackman, M. Z., & Johnson, C. E. (2009). Ethical Leadership and Followership. Leadership: a communication perspective (5 ed., pp. 336-368). Long Grove, Ill.: Waveland Press.

Superleadership from a Super Kid President

“The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” -Ralph Nader

Superleadership is a concept that management professors Henry Sims and Charles Manz argue that the ultimate goal of leadership is empowering followers to take charge of their thoughts and behaviors (Hackman & Johnson, 2009). The two major leadership types to end with independence include superleadership and self-leadership. Self-leadership differs from superleadership with the followers acting on their own through self-behavior modification, finding enjoyment in the task, and building self-confidence through positive thinking (Hackman & Johnson, 2009). The success of the superleadership concept is very expansive if the leadership were effective to act as a stimulus to create a ripple effect. For example, the altruistic participation in the Power of Three originates with one person helping three others who then help three others and so on. In this example, random acts of kindness increase exponentially to help from three to nine to twenty-seven to eighty-one people and so forth. While it is effective to lead with a stagnant style, superleadership super-develops the effects of the one leader to create a leader out of every follower.

Robby Novak better known by the nickname Kid President is a 10-year old American comedian, motivational speaker, and a YouTube sensation (Kid President, n.d.). He practices superleadership with messages to simplify difficult/complicated issues (like depression to moral decision-making to dream-chasing) and challenges his variety of followers to learn to lead for themselves. He utilizes his inherent and his learned leadership skills as a viral Internet leader to motivate and accomplish tasks small to large and represent the voices of the next generation and to astonish the older generation with the incredible power and wisdom of the youth.

Pep Talk from Kid President

AWESOME YEAR Challenge from Kid President

From his Pep Talk address to everyone, he encourages, educates, and motivates his followers to prompt them to persevere to follow their dreams like he is. This style of superleadership is to guide followers from dependence to independence (Hackman & Johnson, 2009). He understands that there are many complications like depression and lack of desire to help the world, and confronts the complexity with the simplicity of putting oneself in a situation where they cannot be unhappy and how it is the duty to make the world a better place while pursuing a positive dream. He pursues his dreams and betters the world by inspiring others with his influence and strengthening his power with other famous advocates who support his causes like Emma Stone to the current President Obama.

Superleaders employ three strategies to create a climate that promotes independent thought and action: changing organizational structures, changing organizational processes, and changing interpersonal communication patterns (Hackman & Johnson, 2009). Kid President changes organizational structure throughout his campaign by reconfiguring the societal norm role of a leader to be young and reducing the hierarchy of the organization toward equality to create an understanding that everything is possible and to accept unconventional methods to yield unconventional results. Kid President changes organizational processes throughout his campaign by pushing communication through various types of media to every person to reengineer jobs to be responsible for the whole project rather than a portion of it. . Kid President changes interpersonal communication patterns throughout his campaign by expressing himself through verbal and nonverbal language of his confidence and appreciation of his powerful message and his powerful followers.

There are many types of leadership and followership to fit different situations but in the case of creating a vast ripple effect of a simple message, the superleadership style like Kid President uses proves to be most effective. Personally, I believe the applications of superleadership can be very useful for everyone, followers and leaders, to understand the style dynamics to best work with it. Followers must gain independence under superleadership and leaders must undertake the fact that they did not lose followers but empowered them enough to empower themselves.


Hackman, M. Z., & Johnson, C. E. (2009). Leadership and Power. Leadership: a communication perspective (5 ed., pp. 155-159). Long Grove, Ill.: Waveland Press.

Kid President. (n.d.). Wikipedia. Retrieved January 22, 2013, from

All know What. Some know How. Few know Why.

With a need for all people to better as followers and leaders, it is important to understand leadership and its inspirational influence. In Chapter One of Leadership: a Communication Perspective, four themes of leadership emerge to clarify the ambiguity of this special form of human communication. The four primary dimensional themes are:
1. leadership is about who you are,
2. leadership is about how you act,
3. leadership is about what you do, and
4. leadership is about how you work with others (Hackman & Johnson, 2009).
From these definitional themes, this book illustrates that leadership focuses on the traits and attributes, the exercise of influence, importance of followers, and collaboration facet of leaders.


In the timespan from 1:37-8:14 of this video, Simon Sinek leads and inspires people to inspirationally lead. He expounds the aforementioned four primary dimensional themes through the “Golden Circle” model. Sinek approaches the pattern of inspirational leadership with minimal bias from and biological and anthropological approach with this model that codifies the three distinct and interdependent elements (Why, How, What) that makes any person or organization function at its highest ability (Sinek, 2009). “Everyone knows what he or she does. Some know how they do it. Few know why they do it (Sinek, 2009).” It is the innermost Why concept that explicates why people and organizations are more innovative, more influential, command greater loyalty and are able to repeat successes. With information of how to be the few, it increases one’s ability to inspire others repeatedly.

A correlated illustration of the Golden Circle alternative perspective is the “Cone”. The Cone is a three-dimensional representation to illustrate how the levels of the Golden Circle exist inside an organization to viewpoint demonstrates the flow of information through an organization and the relative roles and responsibilities (Sinek, 2009). The Cone exemplifies the differentiation between managers versus leaders. For example, managers are located in the middle of the organization with responsibilities to advance the Why and manage those at the What level and the leaders operate at the top of an organization with responsibilities for keeping the Why clear. As Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus researched the relationship between a manager and a leader, they found the key difference lies in the focus: managers are people who do things right and leaders are people who do the right thing (Hackman & Johnson, 2009). Hackman, Johnson, and Sinek agree with focus of a manager is on efficiency whereas the focus of a leader is on effectiveness.

In conclusion, Sinek systemizes three critical leadership themes via an inspirational Golden Circle model to diminish the overabundance of blind followers and visionless leaders. In addition to the themes of leadership, the concept of leadership is further clarified with contrast to the leader-like role of manager. The differentiation is inherent in the focus of the roles and where the roles are located in the levels of the Cone model. All know What. Some know How. Few know Why. It is the select few who can combine the knowledge of Why with communication skills to be an inspirational leader.

The culminated knowledge of anthropology, biology, and communications of the lessons of Simon Sinek and the “Leadership: A Communication Perspective” book can be utilized to many for many useful applications. This has personally helped me to better understand myself as a follower to not support a person, product, or idea blindly to prevent myself from drowning in the mainstream without reason. Recently, I have been exploring all types of faiths and beliefs to explore my own self as opposed to adapting to the encompassing influences. It is critical to grow naturally without being swayed into adjustment. Additionally, this has helped me to better understand myself as a leader to have inherent power without holding official titles like many associate with a leader. Applications of this knowledge to develop in the areas of innovation, influence, and loyalty, can lead any person to be a repeatedly successful inspirational leader. Applications of this information can be utilized for everyone, followers and leaders alike to better themselves and better the world.


Hackman, M. Z., & Johnson, C. E. (2009). Leadership and Communication. Leadership: a communication perspective (5 ed., pp. 10-16). Long Grove, Ill.: Waveland Press.

Sinek, S. (2009). Start with why: how great leaders inspire everyone to take action. New York: Portfolio.

Start With Why. (n.d.). Start With Why. Retrieved March 21, 2013, from