I’ve pondered the question,” Why is leadership important? throughout my career. The answer eluded me until I developed my definition of leadership as the harnessing of the creativity and the intelligence of people – then I clearly understood why leadership is important.
There are many analogies of the leader – as surgeon, conductor, etc. – that essentially share the importance of the leaders. (They direct team members, assign tasks according to the level of skill and competency, have a helicopter’s view of the team, assists members to fulfil their roles and responsibilities, and the list goes on.)
What if we shift focus and narrow in on team members? Why do team members think leadership is important?
When I answer these questions from the team members’ perspective, the reasons become more nuanced, more social and less about business. I believe that when leadership acts as a harness, it has the potential to allow each team member to be part of something bigger, to tap into members innate desire to be led and to provide members the opportunity to dwell in community. Let me explain:
We want to be part of something bigger – Each of us matters. Each of us wants to matter. While our current situation may not reflect our deepest desire, we each want our life to mean something. This desire for meaning also extends to the hours spent earning our keep. Effective Leadership helps us to link daily tasks, our roles and our responsibilities to a bigger vision, a larger purpose and a grander scheme. Leadership paints a vivid picture, that engenders our belief that what we are doing is important and often critical to the success of the team, of the organisation and of our individual selves. We want leadership to connect us to something beyond the mundane, other than ordinary, and into something bigger.
We want to be led – Why do people “keep up with the Kardashians”? Why do they adopt their fashion, behaviour and mannerisms? Because they want to be led. We’ve seen this before with great political, religious and thought leaders who have commanded large audiences, willing us to be more, and encouraging us to believe that more is possible. We want a voice to speak for us, we want someone to emulate, we want a champion and we want to be part of their world. Effective leadership, satisfies these needs on a regular basis as their image reflects the great in us, and as it acknowledges that we are not sheep.
We want to be in community – Man has always lived in community – for protection, for food, for spiritual and other reasons. This is an old need of ours – to be of a community, to be in community. We want to belong to a group, that respects us, that we respect, that shares similar beliefs and holds complimentary values. Leadership allows us this sense of community when it corrals the various perspectives, personal agendas, skills and competencies of the team members to achieve a common purpose. Leadership is the glue that holds the various thoughts, opinions and ambitions of the team members together and guides them in a common direction. There is no loss of or squashing of or disrespecting of independent thought, instead there is a tacit agreement that for the common objective to be achieved we will move forward in this direction.
Now dear reader let’s turn the lens on you. Why do you want to be a leader? Why is your leadership important?
P.S. Drop me a line and share you thoughts.
Maxine Attong is the author of two business books – Change or Die – The Business Process Improvement Manual and Lead your Team to Win. She is a speaker, coach, Organisational Development consultant and of course an accountant.