Taeyeon lead the 9-member and then eventually 8-member group of what was once the most popular Korean girl group, Girls Generation. They are acknowledged as one of their agency’s cash cows and many of its members now have successful individual careers. When you are the leader of such a group, love and hate come with the territory. It is expected for Taeyeon to receive a lot of both.
However, it is undeniable that she gets considerably more hate than what other leaders are getting. It has gotten to a point where Taeyeon has threatened to file legal action against people posting hate comments on her social media accounts. This leads us to examine why there are many people who consider her a bad leader.
This post does not mean I necessarily agree that she is indeed a bad leader but simply examines why she is perceived to be one.
One of the most common criticism about SM is that very rarely do the idols write their own music. However, if people care to be objective, SM actually does allow their idols to write their own music provided it is at par with their standards. DBSK, even when they were still a five-member group, already had their members writing their own music. Yunho writes his own raps and both Changmin and Yungho write lyrics and dictate the creative direction of DBSK. Shinee has been known for progressive and edgy concepts and much is credited to the collaborative effort of the whole group. Even Super Junior members that used to be known as the DBSK leftovers have all worked together as a group to practice some control over their creatives.
Girls Generation, although well-loved and definitely successful, doesn’t seem to have any sort of creative influence over their image or sound. They were sexy innocent girls when they were launched and they are still sexy innocent girls. DBSK has bravely fused different sounds. Super Junior has incorporated humor, grunge and pop. Shinee is now edgy and progressive. Even Exo changed from classic pop to vintage pop. Girls Generation is still cute and sexy.
It can be argued that SM simply exercises control over them but how come all these other groups have progressed and Girl’s Generation has not? Isn’t it her responsibility as a leader to stand up and realize this and talk to SM management about progressing SNSD? Yes. Is it a bad thing? Your guess is as good as mine but the point is that this is a Girl’s Generation weakness and she’s the leader.
There are many leaders in Kpop that aren’t necessarily the most popular but it is rare for a superstar group leader to be outgrown in terms of maturity as much as Taeyeon is being outgrown by her members.
Yoona has dominated China, Tiffany is going international, Jessica runs a multi million fashion brand and will soon launch her book, and even Sooyoung is finally doing what she has always wanted to do, act.
Taeyeon is still unable to take control of her own career direction. She has only two songwriting credits even after years of promoting as a solo artist. This might be a reflection of the same inability to take control of SNSD’s creative direction.
Taeyeon famously told the story of her telling her members that she wanted to resign as the leader. She was expecting for the members to stop her from resigning but they simply let her resign because they all felt the group has been going on without a functioning leader for some time anyway.
It became a testament of how SNSD may have had a “paper leader” but has no actual leader.
This is connected to number one. Leaders are known for having a vision as to where the future of the group is going. Yunho shared how they are beginning be more experimental in their sound because they anticipate that age will catch up on them. Jung Yonghwa openly shared about how they want to jump from one genre to another. Even Moon Junyoung (Lee Hoo) of the not so popular ZE:A shared his vision for ZE:A to take control of their own career and create a more distinct image. These things don’t necessarily come from the leaders. In fact, it’s the members that often talk about the leader.
Taeyeon doesn’t seem to have anything. She does not share her vision for the group and her members, with all their talkativeness and profession of love for the group, does not share anything about how their leader leads them to creative progress.
Leeteuk is another leader that seems to get a lot of hate but the hate is tampered by the support of the members of Super Junior. They often talk about how the leadership of Leeteuk is the biggest reason they are all still together. They all profess that they are able to make fun of Leeteuk because Leeteuk managed to establish his authority without being stiff.
Taeyeon’s leadership is rarely fondly addressed by the members. They talk about the love between the group but they rarely pay tribute to the importance and value of Taeyeon’s leadership.
In many variety shows, the group often regard Seohyun to be the one that sets rules and discipline in the group. They mention this consciously and casually. One noticieable display of this is in Running Man in Episode 63. They got into the car and Seohyun immediately reminded Haha to drive carefully. Jongkook confirmed that Seohyun is the “organizer” in the group.
Seohyeon is the one that keeps tabs of their schedules and the one the keeps tabs of their commitements.
In other shows, everyone acknowledged that Seohyun is very strict in how their dorm is run and rules that must be followed. She is also the most attentive when it comes to the needs of other members. She looks after everyone.
Still connected to Number one, Girls Generation has not matured. They are still money makers and from the point of view of business, there is no reason to fix something that is not broken. However, part of being a leader is being able to pivot a group towards progress and growth.
It is certainly the responsibility of the leader to set a vision, the mere fact that SNSD has not grown up means Taeyeon has none. She doesn’t have to be selfish in that vision. She could very well asked all the members to participate in creating one but the mere fact that Girls Generation sound has remained the same means she either failed in leading the group to come up with a vision or she failed in leading the group to implement it.
Again, it may be argued that SM is clipping their wings but it’s the leader’s responsibility to fight for the group.
Even prior to quitting, SNSD members felt they had no leader and it made it easier for them to accept her resignation. She did eventually stay as the leader after she told the members she was expecting them to decline her resignation.
However, the mere fact that her own members felt they were functioning with not leader and things were still going smoothly meant she didn’t make much of a difference as a leader. Even after that incident, Seohyun continued functioning as she always had, the one who keeps the group together by keeping everyone in check, representing the group to the company, and keeping everything together.
Taeyeon quit being a leader and quitting isn’t exactly a trait you would want in a leader. In fact, the leader should be the foundation of the group, the source of strength. When everything crumbles, the leader should hold it together. SNSD didn’t even go through extreme controversies but she still chose to quit.
Moreover, she did so at the height of SNSD’s popularity. She has had years to adjust to the role, developer her own style of leadership but she still quit.
Leaders experience controversies. Even the best ones out there get caught up in rumors and mistakes that were caught on camera. Onew’s middle finger to his members caused him to go on hiatus and GD’s scandals are too many to mention.
But Taeyeon’s diva behavior and rude comment towards nurses in a hospital she went to to take shots. She made fun of them for being on a break when she was there. She later apologized for the statement she made on the nurses.
Some people credit her statements to her youth, being a young girl with not a lot of background when it comes to how hospitals work and rights of employees. Some people refuse appreciate the apology but it doesn’t add to how they view Taeyeon as a leader.
Again, this is not to say that these reasons are valid and that Taeyeon is
actually a bad leader. This article only aims to provide reasons why
people think she is a bad leader. Whether or not you agree is just fine. Leave
This article was originally published back in 2015. Thus, some info WAS outdated. There seems to be some renewed interest so I updated some parts of it to reflect recent developments.