Why Would Someone Want to be a Leader?

April 2, 2010 by
Filed under: Leadership 

It’s a ques­tion I find myself ask­ing every now and then. Being a leader always comes with it added respon­si­bil­ity in some form or another. Added respon­si­bil­ity because every­one has things they are respon­si­ble for in their life. Whether it is their rent or mort­gage, gro­cery bills, school home­work, par­ent­hood respon­si­bil­i­ties, job respon­si­bil­i­ties, you name it. We all have them in some mix. When a per­son is a leader, added respon­si­bil­i­ties come about. With that added pres­sures, added stress, more hours most likely needed in order to get things done. So why would some­one want to be a leader?

Is it a need to be impor­tant? Is it a need to be needed? Is it a need to be loved or desired? Is it a need to make a dif­fer­ence in some­thing or for some­one? Is it a need to have a rea­son for their own exis­tence in the world?

Def­i­n­i­tions of Leadership:

  • a per­son who guides oth­ers toward a com­mon goal, show­ing the way by exam­ple, and cre­at­ing an envi­ron­ment in which other team mem­bers feel actively involved in the entire process. A leader is not the boss of the team but, instead, the per­son that is com­mit­ted to car­ry­ing out the mis­sion of the Ven­ture. Below are some qual­i­ties a strong leader may possess.
  • a per­son who rules or guides or inspires others
  • a guid­ing or direct­ing head, as of an army, move­ment, or polit­i­cal group.
  • a per­son who goes before or with to show the way; con­ducts or escorts others

Look­ing back in my life, I’ve seen myself placed in var­i­ous roles of lead­er­ship. Most of those times I didn’t want to be in the lead­er­ship role but I knew that if I didn’t do some­thing, some­thing I believed needed to be done, would not be done. That’s prob­a­bly one of the strongest rea­sons a per­son takes on a lead­er­ship role. A person’s own beliefs and con­vic­tions cause them to see the impor­tance of act­ing on them when they believe the time to do so is needed.

I don’t need to tell any­one who’s held a lead­er­ship posi­tion of any kind that the added pres­sures that usu­ally find them­selves with the role can at times get to them. After all, we are all only human (although some may beg to dif­fer on that…but that is another sep­a­rate sub­ject of phi­los­o­phy). We all have our weak­nesses, but not all of us real­ize them, come to grips with them, or off­set their neg­a­tive impact. When the pres­sures of lead­er­ship causes a per­son to lose con­trol of their emo­tions, and get angry or upset, it can derail what­ever the per­son is attempt­ing to do. One of my favorite books on lead­er­ship is Don­ald Phillip’s “Lin­coln on Lead­er­ship”, in it the author states a fact that for lead­ers is some­times too dif­fi­cult to accept:

“The plain fact of the mat­ter is that, for any per­son to suc­cess­fully lead oth­ers, he or she must deal with the real­ity and be ready to accept the fact that lead­er­ship at times can bring out the worst in us. And under­stand­ing, as well as com­ing to grips with the darker side of your per­son­al­ity, is key to deal­ing with real-life situations.”

Con­trary to what some may believe, Lin­coln had a strong burn­ing drive to achieve what­ever goals he set his mind to achieve. It was an almost uncon­trol­lable obses­sion for him and with that came a nat­ural strong tem­per. As human beings that are meant to inter­act with oth­ers, lead­ers must accom­plish the para­dox­i­cal task of man­ag­ing their darker side. Lin­coln had an inter­est­ing way of deal­ing with his “darker side”. What did he do? When­ever Lin­coln found him­self get­ting angry or upset at some­one, he would write that per­son a very chid­ing let­ter out­lin­ing the audac­ity the other per­son had in doing what­ever it was that upset him. He would lay out every­thing that was on his mind about that per­son at the moment within the let­ter. When he fin­ished the let­ter, he pro­ceeded to place it in an enve­lope for mail­ing. After he sealed the let­ter, he wrote on the back “Not sent”. He felt bet­ter for hav­ing released his neg­a­tive feel­ings, but prob­a­bly real­ized that chew­ing a per­son out would not serve any real purpose.

Some Para­dox­i­cal Words on Leadership

A num­ber of years back, I came across a story that men­tioned 10 para­dox­i­cal com­mand­ments of lead­er­ship. It wasn’t until years later that I dis­cov­ered their origin.

Below are the “Para­dox­i­cal Com­mand­ments of Lead­er­ship” writ­ten by Kent M. Keith back in 1968 when he was a sopho­more in col­lege as part of a book­let (The Silent Rev­o­lu­tion: Dynamic Lead­er­ship in the Stu­dent Coun­cil) for high school stu­dent leaders.

Peo­ple are illog­i­cal, unrea­son­able, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, peo­ple will accuse you of self­ish ulte­rior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are suc­cess­ful, you will win false friends and true ene­mies.
Suc­ceed anyway.

The good you do today will be for­got­ten tomor­row.
Do good anyway.

Hon­esty and frank­ness make you vul­ner­a­ble.
Be hon­est and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the small­est men and women with the small­est minds.
Think big anyway.

Peo­ple favor under­dogs but fol­low only top dogs.
Fight for a few under­dogs anyway.

What you spend years build­ing may be destroyed overnight.
Build any­way.

Peo­ple really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help peo­ple anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

(and one more)

The world is full of vio­lence, injus­tice, star­va­tion, dis­ease, and envi­ron­men­tal destruc­tion.

Have faith anyway.

(The last one above is from Kent Keith’s book “Have Faith Any­way: The Vision of Habakkuk for Our Times”)

When I read them, I was really intrigued at how straight for­ward these “com­mand­ments” seemed to be. How pow­er­ful they were, and still are, when it came to point­ing out the hard obvi­ous tri­als that any­one who wishes to fol­low the path of lead­er­ship expe­ri­ences. For me, they are pow­er­ful words that today help me remem­ber there is a big­ger rea­son to keep going. A big­ger rea­son to be a good friend, a good brother, a good col­league, a good son, and a good leader. The big­ger rea­son for me may not be the same as yours, but for me it is a rea­son that dri­ves me none-the-less. Your rea­son may be a dif­fer­ent one from mine, but as long as it dri­ves you, it is a rea­son for you to have and move towards accom­plish­ing your goals.

I’ve wit­nessed many peo­ple who’ve appeared to be great lead­ers and yet never saw them­selves as a leader. At the same time, I’ve wit­nessed peo­ple who thought of them­selves as a leader, but were really any­thing but (that is only one person’s opin­ion of course 😉 ).

Do you know of any­one who you would con­sider to be a good or even great leader? Why do you believe they are? If you see your­self want­ing to be a leader, what has been your desire for leadership?

Some Great Books:

 Why Would Someone Want to be a Leader?


11 Intelligent Opinions, Leave Yours on Why Would Someone Want to be a Leader?

  1. Nara Venditti on Mon, 5th Apr 2010 11:01 am
  2. Timely and thought­ful. Great arti­cle, thank you. I think the best lead­ers are those who fol­low ser­vice lead­er­ship prin­ci­ple. In a nut­shell, be a leader by help­ing peo­ple. I know at least one per­son who fol­lows this pat­tern of leadership.

    Well-loved. Like or Dis­like: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  3. Guss Powers on Fri, 6th Aug 2010 11:42 am
  4. This is such an excel­lent resource which you are pro­vid­ing and you give it away for free. I love see­ing web sites that under­stand the value of pro­vid­ing a high qual­ity resource for free of charge. It?s the old what goes around comes close to rou­tine. Did you acquired lots of links and I see plenty of trackbacks?

    Well-loved. Like or Dis­like: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  5. S.Ramesh on Thu, 8th Nov 2012 6:07 am
  6. i want to buy a new leadar

    Like or Dis­like: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  7. Max on Fri, 21st Dec 2012 4:04 pm
  8. Great lead­ers are not born they are made. Men­tors help to bring out the great lead­er­ship qual­i­ties. Lead­ers always learn. Peo­ple fol­low lead­ers, who lead by exam­ples. Lead­ers think long term and have a plan. They keep on grow­ing by achiev­ing small small goals.

    Like or Dis­like: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. Mitchel on Tue, 15th Apr 2014 9:55 pm
  10. Why users still makke use of to read news papers when in this tech­no­log­i­cal world every­thing is acces­si­ble on net?
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    Like or Dis­like: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  11. Bernice Greene on Sun, 21st Sep 2014 8:02 am
  12. I think the admin of this web page is gen­uinely work­ing hard for his site, as
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  13. Kiersten on Wed, 3rd Jun 2015 8:04 pm
  14. Hav­ing read this I believed it was extremely enlight­en­ing.
    I appre­ci­ate you find­ing the time and effort to put this infor­ma­tion together.
    I once again find myself per­son­ally spend­ing a sig­nif­i­cant amount of time both read­ing
    and leav­ing com­ments. But so what, it was still worth­while!
    Kier­sten recently posted..Kier­stenMy Profile

    Like or Dis­like: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  15. Leigh on Fri, 7th Aug 2015 2:32 pm
  16. Oh my good­ness! Impres­sive arti­cle dude! Thanks,
    How­ever I am expe­ri­enc­ing dif­fi­cul­ties with your RSS.
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    Leigh recently posted..LeighMy Profile

    Like or Dis­like: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. Jamal on Wed, 13th Jul 2016 8:18 am
  18. A nice arti­cle on what is lead­er­ship about. There are many research based def­i­n­i­tions of lead­er­ship and who is a leader. From the analy­sis after going through the arti­cle and com­ments, i under­stand that lead­er­ship is demon­stra­tion through actions to per­suade to achieve com­mon goals. This prac­tice increases the num­ber of fol­low­ers to strengthen the leader by empow­er­ing him/her.

    Like or Dis­like: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. Jack Duncan on Tue, 2nd Aug 2016 6:34 am
  20. My favorite quote above from “Para­dox­i­cal Com­mand­ments of Lead­er­ship” is: Peo­ple are illog­i­cal, unrea­son­able, and self-centered. Love them any­way. I just like the fact that it is so hon­est, yet so gen­er­ous at the same time. Have a great day!
    Jack Dun­can recently posted..Key­word Grouper: How To Group Key­words For Key­word Clus­ter­ing & MappingMy Profile

    Like or Dis­like: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. Topboxing gloves on Tue, 7th Mar 2017 4:17 am
  22. Great lead­ers are not born they are made. Men­tors help to bring out the great lead­er­ship qual­i­ties. Lead­ers always learn. Peo­ple fol­low lead­ers, who lead by exam­ples. Lead­ers think long term and have a plan. They keep on grow­ing by achiev­ing small small goals

    Like or Dis­like: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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