Leaders Need a Cause

PurposeLeading. Serving. Doing good. Engaging employees. All that jazz.

Sounds quaint when it’s on a mug or one of those inspirational wall posters, but doing something that matters is rarely easy, regardless of the scenario within which you’re attempting it. Leadership isn’t easy–most of you would likely nod in agreement with that. (If you think it’s easy, you might not be doing it right.)

For example, think about people who don’t quite fit the mold in their particular social group. Granted, sometimes, in some groups, that’s fine. But other times, in other groups, it’s definitely not. You can be looked down on, whispered about, and so on.

That means you’ve really got to believe in who you are and what you’re doing. Why do you get out of bed every morning? Literally–what’s your real-deal, honest-to-goodness answer to that question? The one you’d give if you knew no one–not your boss, not your spouse, not anyone–would ever find out. Why do you do what you do? What drives you? When I figured out my own answer to this question, it changed everything; but that’s for another post.

You work, your leadership, your service to these other human beings you’re with every day–it’s got to be important to you on a level deeper than the “it’s in my job description so I need to get it done” level. It’s got to be more than coining a phrase, or crafting (yet another) tagline or catchphrase, or having (yet another) town hall meeting, or sending out (yet another) survey, etc. There’s nothing wrong with any of those things; but it has to be more than those things. It’s got to be more than becoming a non-conformist, corporate rebel for the sake of becoming a non-conformist, corporate rebel. (Believe me, I think there’s a place for those rebels–those change-makers–but those folks usually do have a cause.)

For your own sake, if for no other reason, there must be a compelling reason. Something you believe deeply in. Something that’s good, courageous, daring, and for the greater good of the clump of humans you’re living life with every day for 8-plus hours a day. You need to know what that “something” is that is because that’s what’s going to sustain you and keep you going when “they” don’t appreciate you, misunderstand you, even vilify you.

This isn’t easy. Important things rarely are.

6 thoughts on “Leaders Need a Cause

  • Great article. My father always taught me not to be a follower, but a leader. I never wanted to lead, nor I ever desired power but I always “felt out of place.” That being said, I learned that I cannot follow other people. I am forced to lead because I wish to be the change I see in the world. It’s a lonely road as most people lack the discipline to “get it done”. Keep up the good work, very inspiring. – Chris

    • Hi, Tracy. Thanks for your post. I’ll check out the paper; thanks for sharing here so others could check it out as well! Cheers.

  • Good thoughts-I often ask candidates in an interview. Tell me about a time when the alarm clock sounds, and you jump out of bed because you cannot wait to get started. That’s when someone really tells you what motivates them.

    • Yep. Right on, Skip. And to me, they don’t even need to answer that with something that necessarily pertains to the position for which they’re interviewing. I just want to see that they *know* what that thing is. That they *have* that thing. That *something* makes them come alive.

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