Do we ever stop to think about the reasons one becomes a leader? I think about the different perceptions about leadership – everyone sees a leader in a different way. I used to believe that leadership consisted of an individual person who was “in charge”. This person was like a character in a movie – someone strong that could make decisions and take action to ensure everyone was taken care of. I used to think if I became a leader people would automatically listen and respect me. What I didn’t realize is the fact that just because you are a leader doesn’t mean that people will follow. And more importantly, just because you might be given a title doesn’t mean you understand what a leader is.
Why are people motivated to become a leader? Does it stroke your ego to have a title? Does the idea of having power make you all giddy inside? Do you believe that people will think it is really cool that you are in charge? Will people automatically listen and do what you say because you are a “leader”? Do we take on leadership challenges because we believe that others will view us in a positive light? Hopefully, the answer to all of the above questions would be a resounding no! While we may not want to admit we have one or two of these motivations rolling around in our brains, our human condition sometimes allows us to indulge in the notions that leadership makes us a better person – more popular and respected for our title.
Yes, a title is cool – otherwise why would politicians go at it every four years to become President of the United States? But we must not lose sight of the real reasons for leadership. Making the world a better place for your team members should be the overarching consideration of your leadership career. Happy, fulfilled team members will create happy, satisfied customers. Leadership is not having a title and expecting everyone to follow you, but supporting your team from behind allowing them to create a successful organization.
Otherwise, what happens if you are charging forward as a leader and when you turn around you are all alone?