Why do you want to be a leader? That’s a question that needs to be answered by any person taking on that role, or planning to.
The motivational forces that pull us toward leadership do not disappear after the role is secured – in fact, our motivations are as important as any action we take when it comes to determining the success or failure of our teams.
For example, if we lead because we like being in a position of power and authority, it’s a safe bet that we’ll emphasize these traits in practice –and maybe even over emphasize them. While we are fulfilling our motivational desires, exerting too much authority can stifle the rest of the team’s creativity and productivity.
On the other hand, if we lead because we want to make a difference in people’s lives by teaching and inspiring, our actions will be guided by a very different compass.
What’s driving us on the inside is a powerful force that “rubs off” on everyone else – it cannot be hidden. Your actions will betray whatever words you use to deny it.
You can really see this principle at work when someone is thrust in a leadership position, or takes a position “for the money”, but isn’t really motivated to be a leader. It isn’t hard to notice the discomfort and the resulting ineffectiveness of the team, even though the person may publicly declare they are “OK” with the job.
And it’s unlikely that any amount of remedial training could change the story.
What it really boils down to is this – until you figure out WHY you want to lead, you cannot deliver great leadership.
I found that out myself very early in my career – 2 years after I graduated from college I was given a leadership position that I really wasn’t ready for. I hardly gave it any thought – heck, I was still single and devoting a lot of time to thinking about “leadership” just wasn’t in the cards.
What I then delivered to my charges was pretty much “by the book”, and not very inspiring. It wasn’t until I was thrown into a bigger leadership pool (see my free e-book for that story) that I really spent some quality contemplative time with those “whys”.
And then, and only then, did I start delivering what my team really needed.
I figured out that leadership isn’t a casual endeavor. It’s not just another rung on the ladder, or a larger paycheck. To me, it’s a privilege and an honor to make a difference for my teammates, to teach and coach them, and to maximize their potential.
That’s my motivation. Determining “what’s in it for me” has certainly made me a better leader. What about you?