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Why Leaders Do What They Do
By Phil Van Hooser   Printer Friendly Version

Have you ever taken the time to consider why you ever wanted to be a leader in the first place? It may have been for the money, status, or power that you imagined could be realized from some available leadership position. On the other hand, you may have been pursued a leadership position because of the obvious lack of leadership you were receiving. Of course, there is always the possibility that you didn't pursue leadership at all. Rather it found you, and you may still be scratching your head, wondering how.

Let me begin by offering a formal overview of what I believe leadership to be. We must always remember that the act of leadership, personal or professional, is only part of our individual journey. Leadership should not be considered a destination in and of itself. Recognition that leadership opportunities can be fleeting, should encourage us to take full advantage of them while they exist. Yet, we should clearly understand that the leadership positions entrusted to us provide temporarily elevated vistas which, when used properly, allow us the potential to realize significantly greater accomplishments with and through our followers. In the midst of these accomplishments, leaders are able to experience the synergistic benefits of team activity, by learning with and from these same followers. As a result, both leader and followers walk away from the shared experience better prepared to continue their respective journeys.

In the event, that the previous paragraph proved to be a bit too cerebral for your tastes, let me boil the concept of what leadership is down to the following working definition:

Leadership is not position! Leadership is the ability to offer service and the willingness to take action.

That's it. We are not a leader simply because of our title, rank, or the proximity of our parking space to our work area We must constantly strive to escape the traditional thought processes which assumed that if an individual were a supervisor, manager, captain, president, etc., he or she must, therefore, be a leader.

No, true leadership is granted by the followers. Granted only when it becomes evident to followers that the aspiring leader has the ability to provide some service for them that they cannot realize alone. More importantly though, aspiring leaders must take action. They must put wings to their words. For followers, leadership proof is in the results.

So our challenge begins by getting to know what our followers need that they cannot satisfy alone. Thus, when our focus shifts from ourselves and our positions, to our followers and their needs, the leadership journey has truly begun.

Thank you for requesting this article written by Phillip Van Hooser, CSP.

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