Thursday, June 25, 2009

Leadership of The Underdog

Underdog: a person who is expected to lose in a contest or conflict; A victim of social or political injustice.

It all began when unassuming mobile-phone salesman, Paul Potts sang Nessun Dorma in Britain’s Got Talent. He won. Recently, Susan Boyle sang from Les Miserables and won runner-up. These two performers boosted YouTube ratings, with Boyle raking over 100 million viewing hits so far.

Few expected these two to qualify during their auditions. However, they sang their way to the audiences’ hearts when they surprised with their awesome pipes. The human emotions of shock, surprise and amazement can quickly shift one’s beliefs and paradigms.

Is the underdog a leader? Surely, despite the lack of expectation over their likelihood to win, are they leaders?

The underdog could be the calculated risk of the bookers and punters. Some people bet on the underdog. The odds may be lower, however the payback is potentially higher. Therefore, the underdog has more perceived value when they win. Plus, when underdogs win there is, invariably, more drama and emotional connection. Who doesn’t want the underdog to win?

Rocky Balboa was the underdog throughout the Rocky films. He persevered and his relentless persistence paid off, eventually, despite far more youthful, popular, or genetically advantaged opponents. Leadership incorporates qualities like these: patience, persistence, diligence, faith, and resilience. The Karate Kid was not expected to win, however, he triumphed over his fear as he led with his heart. Underdog brands compete in the global arena, oftentimes in very compelling positions. Do people remember number 2? Avis cars said they would try harder. Creative Technologies still persists and has been resilient in the face of Apple’s iPods. Apple has defied the mainstream by creating its own niche operating systems. Pepsi Cola versus Coca Cola. Virgin Airlines going one on one with British Airways. Linux and Microsoft. A little Red Dot of a country within a vast global economic landscape. Underdogs exist and persist. Will they eventually reign supreme?

Leadership Lessons: Do you play the underdog? How do you increase your odds of winning? How do underdogs create their presence within a fierce and ferocious pack?

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