Recent world events have magnified the sense of urgency for new thought leadership and methodologies. Leaders need to be exceptionally prepared to adjust on the fly, expect the unexpected, prioritize and be available for their teams like never before. As the workforce continues to transform, many leaders are discovering that their previous practices are no longer relevant. This begs the question for leaders: Do you still have a passion to lead?
There have been numerous instances throughout the course of my career where leaders have lamented the fact that younger generations are impatient and entitled. If truth be told, there are leaders (and you may be one of them) who feel that leadership is a “rite of passage”. Or, that they were born to lead and their innate skills will be sufficient for future success. However, you might be a leader who is discovering that your own leadership journey has taken new, unexpected twists and turns. The pressure to deliver results in a climate dogged with uncertainty may be taking a toll. And accepting that you don’t have all the answers may become a new, unfamiliar refrain.
A title doesn’t make you a leader
Let us cut to the chase: A willingness, or hunger to lead is not the same as having the credentials or experience. Your initial motivation to become a leader may have served you well in the past. But is it still relevant? This is a key question if you want to remain effective and successful for years to come. If you have been in a leadership role for many years, you have no doubt witnessed staggering change in every aspect of business and the world of work. Remaining positive and committed to serve and lead other takes energy. What can you do to inspire, re-charge and lead yourself first?
Technological innovation and the digitization of everything have been the greatest drivers of change. If you stepped into your role within the last five to ten years, you have also witnessed ongoing transformation, occurring at an even faster pace. In addition, significant socio-political and economic events, as well as how you identify yourself in terms of demographics have also influenced your leadership style on a conscious and unconscious level.
A lack of passion and the link to employee disengagement
As a baby boomer, my recollection and experiences with bosses was a mixed bag. I placed a handful of them on a pedestal while others remain memorable for all the wrong reasons. Unfortunately, many of you likely share my sentiments regardless of your age. The abundance of mediocre leaders outweighed the great ones. Sadly, within many organizations, this is still the case. And the correlation between leaders who have lost their passion and a workforce who are disengaged as a result of ineffective leadership still exists.
If you were motivated by title, ego, remuneration, opportunity to utilize your skillset, a pay raise or an altruistic reason, it would behoove you to consider what it takes to effectively lead in today’s business environment. It is highly likely that your responsibilities, pressures and priorities have changed greatly, along with the composition of your workforce. Do you still have what it takes to rise to the challenge and answer the call? And do you have the energy, as well as the willingness to continue leading?
Whatever the motivators were that inspired you to become a leader, the cold hard facts remain. You need to be passionate and energized about your role. Or course, you need to possess the competencies required to be future-ready and successful an ever changing-business environment. However, if you have lost touch with purpose and passion to lead, it is time for some introspection, followed by a decision one way or the other to either address your dilemma, or leave. Your workforce expects leadership as a collective to be confident, insightful, flexible and genuinely interested in them. And people, not technology, will continue to drive innovation and results.
Eric Hoffer, an American writer on social and political philosophy once stated: In a world of change, the learners shall inherit the earth, while the learned shall find themselves perfectly suited for a world that no longer exists. Hoffer’s timeless reflections and future predictions have indeed come true. If you want continued succeed as a leader, can you envision yourself as an eager student, ready to embrace new standards? While a number of core principles engrained early on in your career about being the boss will remain useful, you will likely find that whatever you thought you knew about leadership will never be enough.
The time is now for leaders to be asking why they want to lead…and continue to lead. As you ponder this question, recognize that there is a big difference between answering the call “people need great leadership” and actually stepping up to lead. Your desire, in addition to your ever-evolving skillsets, will continue to be your most valuable assets.