Anyone in their right frame of mind has to ask themselves at some point: why become a leader? After all, the position comes with additional headaches, increased hours, never ending pressure and extra stress. There are deadlines to meet, reports to write, higher leaders to please and a wide array of subordinates to manage, inspire and often pacify.
Leadership – no matter what the context – is not easy. And yet there seems to be no shortage of candidates for it. So what is it that’s so lucrative about it? Should you aspire for leadership as well?
My answer is yes. Leading others is a noble, rewarding experience, but only when done for the right reasons. Here are the important considerations to think about and the real goals you should have when thinking of stepping up to the leadership role.
Create an Impact
If you ever wanted to have an impact on the world around you, as a leader you can do that much better than as a regular member of a team. Sure, you will have more work and added pressure, but the decisions you will make will have an impact well beyond your personal life. You will be able to bring new ideas to light and come up with and execute new projects with your followers. You will make a personal mark on the organization you are part of. You will no longer just be executing someone else’s concept, but be able to present your own vision for tomorrow and make it into reality.
It’s an amazing feeling to see your team work on tasks that have your own personal stamp on them. It’s even more empowering to see the finished work which you led others to accomplish. As a leader, you can have the opportunity to make a real difference and see your own ideas, energy and skills materialize into something real.
Likewise, as a leader you can have a powerful impact on the people around you – specifically on the team you lead. This will demand more of your time and you will now have to manage others, but by doing so, you will have an opportunity to make a difference in their professional lives. In fact, the well being of your followers should be one of the motivating factors for you wanting to take up the mantle of leadership in the first place. You will have an opportunity to help them grow and develop. You will be able to create memorable experiences for them. While this direct influence over others comes with its own level of responsibility, the opportunity to create a positive impact in the lives of other people can be well worth it.
Realize Your Vision
You may have a great vision for the organization you are a part of and some great ideas on how to implement it, but as a regular member of a team your ability to do that is limited. Even as a veteran member of an organization this may be difficult. As a leader, however, you’ll have a chance to implement your vision up to the level of your leadership power. Organizations need to evolve and it’s in their best interests to have new people with fresh ideas come to the front of the pack from time to time. Once there, your ideas can now be tested and implemented.
What’s more, it’s customary in many organizations to have management or leadership meetings, where those in charge share their ideas and develop strategies for the future. While it may take some time to build up a level of credibility and experience in such an environment, eventually you’ll be able to present your vision and your beliefs to other leaders – even your bosses. Patience will be your ally there, but with your leadership voice and position, it’s just a matter of time.
Influence the Culture
There are many working environments out there in need of serious help. Often found issues like a toxic environment, unhealthy working conditions, outdated gender beliefs, discrimination, poor management and negative attitudes all contribute to unhappiness and can ruin working conditions for everyone on a team, if not properly challenged. Such problems can continue for a long time, till eventually someone stands up and takes the mantle of leadership to change it all. This could be you.
I can speak from personal experience here, as I was one of those people who stood up once to make a change. That change didn’t happen overnight, but when it did the sense of accomplishment, pride and joy I derived from taking a stand is still with me today. This action propelled me into leadership for years to come and it was that experience that helped start it all.
When you become a leader – someone who stands up for something – you can have the impact on the culture of an organization that you believe it deserves. It would be easier to give up instead, perhaps change jobs, or try to ignore the problem. But taking the opportunity to make this type of difference in your organization can be very rewarding and it can change a group of people and their environment from bad to good for a very long time.
Have you ever been thought to yourself “I can do a better job than my boss?” If you have, then the answer is – be a leader yourself. If you honestly think you are better suited to lead the pack in your organization than your current leaders, then you can step up to the plate and try it yourself.
Now, a word of caution here. Once you step up for this reason, you now have to deliver. You may find – once you ascend to the leader’s desk – that things were not as easy as they originally seemed and that the previous bosses were actually doing the best they could. This happens more often than you think. So, a healthy dose of perspective and reflection is strongly recommended here.
But if, despite it all, you still believe that your ideas and your decision making skills can lead the organization better, then being the leader is your best chance to prove it. You will be taking on a responsibility on your shoulders, but you will have a chance to make a difference. Work hard and care about your team, once you get there, because if not, you’ll become no different than your previous boss and someone will have to replace you.
Acquire New Skills
While being a leader is more work, there are certain skills that you simply cannot learn any other way. Once in the role, you will need to engage in proper decision making, time and equipment management, employee motivation, organization skills, personnel evaluations, public presentations and a variety of other leadership skills necessary to get the job done. You will be good at some but not so at others. Those that elude you will have to be learned. With time, you’ll acquire skills that may not be attainable as a follower. What’s more, leading others will also teach you surprising things about yourself and lead to better self-awareness and stronger personal organization. It will also teach you more confidence and that is a skill that will benefit you in all other areas of life and is often difficult to learn otherwise.
Leave a Legacy
Finally, as a leader, you will leave a legacy. Like a personal fingerprint on history, your legacy will now be a part of your organization and of other people’s lives. Everywhere you turn in life there is something that was once built, created, or accomplished by people. There are leaders behind all those accomplishments. They had careers that were probably full of ups and downs, loaded with sleepless nights, dotted with challenges and headaches, peppered with deadlines and time constraints, and framed in aspirations and desires. But then again, so are the careers of everyone else, followers included. The difference is that at the end of the day, the leaders left a legacy for all their trouble. That’s pretty impressive.
Notice that I have not mentioned getting a raise, gaining prestige, or gaining a position of power over your colleagues as the right reasons to become a leader. That’s because those are terrible aspirations for leadership and should never be used as a criteria. What may seem like great benefits at first will quickly make you or your followers miserable, once the pressure ramps up. And if you don’t care about your followers being miserable, you should definitely not be a leader. Leaders lead to succeed, not to fail.
Above all, if your intentions are right, don’t deny yourself the opportunity to lead. Remember that once you are there, you will represent the organization, so ensure that its values and its mission are something you want to represent.
There will be more work and you will need to maintain your own motivation. But if you are up to the challenge, want to take on the world and can answer the question “why become a leader?” with one of the above reasons, you will make a difference in a way that you could not any other way.
Do you have any additional thoughts on taking up the mantle of leadership? Share them with us by leaving a note below!
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