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The Why of Leadership

February 10, 2014

We spend so much time doing. We work hard. We struggle. We sacrifice. We strive. Why?

Understanding why we choose to lead will determine how effective we are as a leader. This requires self-awareness, which demands self-honesty. Not an easy thing for most.

Most of what we are taught and believe about leadership centers on the "How" and the "What". How we lead. How we do this. How we do that. And, What is required to lead. What the rules of leadership are. What must be sacrificed. What rewards we deserve. What others think of us. What we think of others.

The "How" and "What" are contributory. But they miss the most important question: Why do we choose to be a leader?

Do we lead to feed our ego? Do we lead to accumulate possessions? Do we lead to win? Do we lead to control? Do we lead to have more than the person next to us? Do we lead to be praised? Do we lead because we desire power? Do we lead to feel better about ourself? Do we lead to feel like we are better than others? Do we lead because we are supposed to? Do we lead to please someone else?

OR do we lead out of a genuine desire to help others have a little better life? Do we lead to help others maximize their potential, become better? Do we get satisfaction from this? In short, do we lead with our heart or our head?

Many leaders get outstanding results focused primarily on themselves and their needs. However, no matter the outcome, are they maximizing their potential with this behavior? Are they building a sustainable business? Are they building loyalty-both internally and externally? Are they building a strong team? Maybe. But are the odds in their favor?

Leaders must stand for something-personally and professionally. If the two are in synch and rest on the simple precept that we treat others as we would want to be treated, then a strong foundation is in place to build a healthy culture, a long-lived business and a satisfying life.

This blog will address the "How's" and "What's" of leadership. But it will always be mindful of the "Why's". "Why" we do what we do matters most. It determines whether we are credible to our fellow associates and business partners. It speaks to our integrity. Respect from our others is inextricably tied to this.

So ask yourself, Why do I choose to be leader? Then answer honestly. If the answer is not to your liking-then embrace that knowledge and decide to change.