Why is Great Leadership So Hard to Find?

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Leadership Development has become quite the buzzword these days. There are posts (including mine), pictures, infograms, seminars, conferences, and yes, coaches like myself working with people to develop leadership skills. There seems to be an almost palatable thirst for inspiring, authentic leadership. And yet, overall, we still seem to be missing the boat.

Just this weekend, I was flying to Boston and two gentlemen were seated across the aisle from me. As often happens when sitting next to a stranger, their conversation steered towards work. They were both obviously middle to upper management within pretty large (and well known) companies. As they talked, they started sharing the “war stories” about the “leaders” in their respective companies. Some pretty heinous examples of poor leadership were swapped back and forth. And then they boasted (perhaps quite accurately) about their own leadership style.

There are examples all around us of poor leadership (the political campaign comes to mind…) in businesses of all types, even churches and nonprofit organizations. All of us can share stories about poor leadership – from mediocre to horrible – that we’ve experienced in our jobs. Most of us have witnessed it in various experiences we’ve had as customers. Many of us know at least one person that is completely miserable at work because of a bad boss and whose whole life and outlook is impacted by that. Apparently we know what lack of leadership looks like… So what is a leader? My favorite definition is:

Leader – noun; someone that others willingly and enthusiastically follow.

Let’s picture that. Who comes to mind when you read that definition? Can you envision what working and interacting with that leader would be like?

But how would we grade our own leadership? Maybe if there is such a wide-spread absence of leadership, we ALL need to look in the mirror. How are we leading in every area of our own lives? Is it like driving where we think everyone else is a bad driver and we’re perfect?

Don’t get me wrong, I love Leadership Conferences, Symposiums, shoot – just everyday conversations about it are totally my jam. But we have to do more. We have to figure out how to quit talking about it and start living it. Start walking the talk. Find where the rubber meets the road. Actually become leaders that really inspire and motivate our teams. There are plenty of reasons we don’t – no time, lack of awareness, fear, too visionary to see the team – but those are all just excuses.

The true leaders are going to outpace their competition exponentially. I personally believe every person in a “leadership” position has a responsibility to take care of their people. Here’s the amazing thing though – it really is a win-win for everyone. Leaders that take care of their people are the most successful. Because guess what? Their people want to take care of them too.