First generation idols in Korea before the 2000s were prone to member changes and disbanding within a few years of debuting.
But over time, more and more idol groups have overcome the “5-year curse” and “7-year curse”.
Many people think the reason behind the increase in longevity of an idol group is how the leader role has changed with time. The leader is no longer just a name given to the oldest member of a group, but a role given to the most fitting member with the right qualities.
An example of this is BTS, where RM is the leader despite being the fourth oldest, right in the middle of the group in terms of age.
In an interview conducted by Money Today last year with BTS RM, RM humbly stated that he was more of a representative of BTS, rather than the leader.
I’m more of the representative than the leader. I get a lot of opportunities to talk, so I take care [of what I say] as to not damage our reputation.
– RM, BTS
When asked about the most difficult thing about leading a team, RM answered that keeping communication open and going when all the members are busy is hard. He explained how he and the members of BTS overcome this.
The keywords we always keep in mind is communication and compassion. Those words might be cliche, but they’re also the unchanging truth.
We have to talk, and when someone else talks, we have to try to see things from their point of view in order to be able to sympathise.
– RM, BTS
RM’s thoughts are that a leader shouldn’t force goals and dreams on other members and fans, and instead meet eyes, listen and cooperate. A leader isn’t just about leading, but also about reading the people surrounding them.
BTS puts a lot of importance on how individual expression comes through within the group.
Each and every member has a unique set of strengths and weaknesses. The way BTS uses this to their advantage is by improving and making up for weaknesses while sharing and attributing the strengths to the group as a whole.
This brings out the best in every member and allows individuals to feel accomplished, and at the same time makes the group stronger.
Each member has a field they excel in; we don’t view this as an independent variable. We’ll teach each other what we’re good at, and through that synergy, step up a level.
– RM, BTS
The reason BTS members don’t have individual social media accounts, such as Twitter, was also partly RM’s decision as a leader to help strengthen the bond between members.
RM’s idea and method as a leader to make BTS a sort of collaboration between members, rather than every individual for their own, is a key component behind BTS’s huge success and popularity.
BTS and A.R.M.Y are lucky to have such an able leader!