One quick Google search of “Why leadership is important” returns results that date back as far as a decade and range widely in their perspective. Here are 10 of the most common responses, some of which I agree with and some I do not, and what they mean for you.
1. One must be able to lead yourself before leading others. If you’re not able to get out of your own way, you will lead others to work through the issues you face, instead of the barriers they need to overcome.
2. There are no leaders and followers, only those with an idea. Anyone with an idea is leading at the moment, but leadership of idea generation takes consistent effort.
3. Leadership is not a result of your title. If everyone with at title was truly followed, the importance of promotion candidates would take a far greater priority.
4. Leadership development is important because it gives others something to follow and secretly all wish to be led. In contrast, all wish to have purpose and be understood. If one believes leadership is focused on understanding those one leads then this might be a viable argument for the improvement of your leadership skills.
5. One must be a natural born leader and a certain personality to be good at leading. Hogwash. Period.
6. Anyone can be a leader, if they possess Desire, Skills, and Practice. This is a favorite saying of mine and holds true in any leadership capacity. An examination, of which of these three may be missing, will result in clarity of development needs for your leadership candidates and position holders.
7. The development of knowledge, skills, and transferring both to team members will increase results and performance. This is true is those knowledge and skills are both focused on what team members need to perform at higher levels. If they are simply the leaders’ bad habits, they will not.
8. Leadership is a clearly defined principle and everyone needs it. Go back to item #6. Not everyone has the desire to lead and certainly leadership is not clear or simple or everyone would have the same definition. Leadership is personal and professional; easy for some, more of a challenge for others; and it often takes a well-rounded sampling of many styles to find one’s own preference of styles and actions.
9. Employee productivity depends on the quality of the leader. Actually, employee productivity and motivation depends far more so on the quality of the employee, the fit of the job they are being asked to perform and the leaders awareness of what they need to improve, as well as willingness to provide it.
10. Leadership Development is as important as the operations of the organization itself. In many cases this is an accurate and seemingly over simplified statement. Consider the number of people each leadership team member influences and for which they are responsible. One poorly developed leader can reduce the value of ten to twenty direct reports and far more indirect reports. One powerful leader can have the same, though reverse and positive impact. The old adages of “stuff rolls downhill” and “it all starts at the top” are true for a reason. It has been proven time and time again that what the leaders of an organization do, good or bad, impacts the performance, results, outcomes, customer retention, employee retention, and longevity of the organization.
What are you doing to develop your leaders? What do you do to ensure they have been promoted and prepared?
Are you sure that all who have been promoted have the desire to lead?
What training do you provide to leaders to increase their skills and practice?
When was the last time you focused on your own leadership development that is, right now influencing others, perhaps even more than you know?