Although gaining self-importance is a natural part of being human and finding our place among tiered relationships, the Self-Affirmation System works between two points of reference; self-importance as an individual and self-importance as a group. People who recognize “shared existence” will support group self-importance and reject individualism.
The way self-affirmation is primarily achieved is through leadership. In the past, leadership was defined by and associated with such factors as age, authority, influence, charisma, and personality. But after continued investigation and analysis, researchers have concluded that the “appointed leader” does not necessarily perform in a leadership capacity as we formerly understood it.
Research shows us that leadership tends to shift to that member of any group who has the capacity for coping with the task facing the group and the knowledge associated with the best outcomes. It is for this reason that leadership is not appointed as much as it emerges from within a group.
Interestingly enough, emerging leaders are far more respected and listened to by the group, primarily because the group itself actually forces this leader to the top. Self-appointed leaders don’t experience half the respect emergent leaders do. This is similar to the differences between functional (emerging) and title (appointed) authority. People who display authority because they have a title are less respected than those who display authority through function (they are good at something) regardless of whether or not they hold a title.
In the same way that titles should only be given in recognition of a proven ability, leadership is rewarded to those who take responsibility for others without proper obligation. True leadership is all about taking responsibility at the expense of self in an effort to benefit the group. Many leaders, at the expense of the group, make irresponsible decisions to benefit the self.
This is akin to the wisdom of Solomon who speaks of the human need to be seen as important or useful. “It’s better to wait for an invitation to the head table than to be sent away in public disgrace.” This is known as the power seat. The power seat has to do with the power dynamics of where you sit at the proverbial table as a group.
Several years ago, I was invited to attend a conference in Waco, Texas by a friend who was one of the speakers. I decided to go and when I arrived I found a seat about halfway between the front and the back. Right before the conference was scheduled to begin, an attendant wearing a black suit and earpiece motioned to me to come with him.
I got up and said, “Me?” He said, “Yes,” and I followed him to the front where he pointed to a seat on the front row in the middle. There was a sign on the seat that said reserved for Steven Sisler. Although I felt a little awkward, it was a good feeling to be asked. This is an example of shifting—the group had made the decision to elevate my standing in light of their own perception of who I was. I was affirmed by the group and not by myself, which is much better. I therefore emerged from the center of the theater to the forefront by the behaviors and drives of other people, not my own desires.
 Geier, Energetics of Leadership [from the book; Energetics of Personality], Pg. 141, 1989.
 This phenomenon is referred to as shifting or emerging leadership according to John G. Geier’s and Dorothy Downey’s research.
 We see this unfold in government and other social spheres where decisions are made through committee and compromise.
 Proverbs 25:7.