“Why” – The Foundation of Great Leadership

This entry is part 9 of 10 in the series Understanding Great Leadership

In the last post we looked at the idea that leaders organise the mental emotional, physical, social and material resources of self and others in order to bring an idea into the world. Keeping your understanding of the task of leadership this simple means you will always know what you have to do in any given situation.   That is you always have to organise resources to bring an idea into the world.  Let’s not fuss too much about the how just yet, that’s for another post.

We haven’t yet fully unpacked our understanding of leadership enough to begin defining the nature of great leadership so that starts in this post.  We’re going to begin with the question of motivation or the why of leadership. More particularly we are going to look at your why, your intentions and your motivations for leadership and see if they stack up.

Motivation Informs Everything!

Why you lead informs every decision and every action you make. It’s reasonable to say then understanding your motives matters. Armed with a clear understanding of why you lead means you will always know your leadership purpose and direction. At the very least clearing up your intentions and motives will have give you a certainty that builds confidence, clarity and composure in the often difficult and confusing task of leading. Without understanding why you lead you may become, indecisive, unclear and ineffective at critical moments. Clarity matters!

Trouble In Leadership

Do you ever find yourself feeling confused about your leadership? Do you ever worry about your decisions or get anxious that you’re not making the best possible choice in any given situation? Or worse do you find yourself frustrated because the people you lead seem to lack engagement? Do you find your leadership being thwarted by opposing voices?  Often our greatest fear in leadership is that no one will follow!  Now there’s a scary thought!

Quality Intentions / Motivations Matter

What if there is a way to overcome all of these problems inspire engagement, motivation, investment from the people you lead? What if there was a way to bring your ideas into the world and create brilliance?  Well there is a way and that way begins with clarity around your intentions and motivations as a leader.

Throughout all of history brilliant ideas have been brought into the world through masterful leadership. Whether it be a leader such as Christopher Columbus taking a small group of sailors through uncharted seas to discover the new world, or industrial leaders who have inspired step changes in manufacturing such as Henry Ford with the production line. Or radically different ideas that have completely changed the way we do business it such as Skype, Linux, Google and the internet itself;  or innovators such as the Wright brothers and their flights at Kitty Hawk, or just inspired conviction like Steve Jobs and Apple, the motivation or the “Why” underpinning their efforts is at the heart of their leadership success.

Crap Intentions and Motives – A Bad Way to Start

To make a complex task, more complex, building the foundations of great leadership isn’t just a question of having clear motivations.  Some of the worlds and businesses greatest disasters have been driven by people with very clear intentions the problem was that those intentions were fundamentally flawed from the start.  Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, weather you think these leaders good or evil the truth is their plans were short lived and failed to satisfy in the long run because they  were built on flawed motivations.  Or the more recently the Global Financial Crisis was lead by people with flawed motives. Whether you talk about Geopolitics, National Governance, or Corporate leadership motives and intentions that have flaws will create, problems and inefficiencies in the organisation of resources and people are doomed to fail under the weight of those problems and inefficiencies.

In The Next Post

In the next post we are going to look at the secret for creating highly effective, sustainable, inspiring, motives and intentions that will stand the test of time.  But for now just pull up a comfy chair a pour yourself a cup of your favourite brew and take a moment to think about your own motivations, your intentions.  Are they best?  Are they efficient? Are they effective?  Will they stand the test of time?

Just some things to think about.



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