A somewhat unusual question I know but an important one nonetheless. Leadership comes with various pros and cons and the responsibilities associated with leadership can cast a long shadow and present a heavy load. Some talk about leadership as being lonely and most understand it as the place where final accountability rests. I say ‘most’ because when it comes to South African politicians this seems a redundant concept!
Leaders seldom seem to have time, are on call 24/7 and rarely seem able to free themselves from the ties that bind them to their work. They are seldom free from public scrutiny and accept that their behaviour will be subject to higher standards than that of those around them. They seldom please everybody and often it seems, they please nobody. It is a tough ask yet is something we are told to aspire towards and when rewarded with positions of leadership, are told that we have ‘arrived’. Leadership leaves its mark on those who lead as well as those who follow. There are countless examples of good leadership as well as bad leadership; of toxic leadership as well as the type of leadership to which we should aspire; of those who succeed in their practice of leadership, and those who don’t.
A lot is said and written about the subject and theories abound as to what it takes to be an effective leader – or what it is to even be a leader. Leaders are given countless tips and pointers as to how best to thrive in leadership – or perhaps merely survive leadership. Some hold onto leadership positions whilst others understand it as something they are entrusted with for a period of time. Some seem to grow in the position whilst others seem to stagnate. Some leave well and many don’t.
Like I said, it is complicated.
But if you can answer this one question: ‘what do you love about leadership?’ …it might be that the maze that is leadership will become just a little clearer to both you and those who follow. It might just be that being able to authentically answer this question will be a source of motivation, clarity of purpose and ultimately, inspiration.
I think it is a question every leader should be able to answer without too much of a pause. Many questions that leaders have to field are outwards focused but the really important leadership questions are those that are inwardly focused. It is these questions that are the most ignored and the consequences of such neglect are plain to see. This question is perhaps foundational to several others that could and should be asked. A smart leader learns to ask good questions – of themselves as well as of others. A smart leader understands that the very core of leadership intersects with who they are and that it is at this intersection, that the real heart of leadership is to be found.
So, what is it about leadership that you love? …and why is that?