Why Is Leadership Important

Once you know WhatIsLeadership, then you need to know: Why is leadership important? Why not just focus on doing your work and running the company and quit worrying about all this leadership stuff?

Simple: This is the age of the knowledge worker. Attracting talented people and enabling them to work effectively to fulfill the organization's goals is the single most important activity of today's company. (Ultimately, the most important task is to make a profit (in a responsible way), but that's achieved by attracting good workers.) Knowledge workers are now more important than innovative ideas (the rate of change in business today is not suffering from lack of innovation), financial assets (venture capitalists will give you that), and physical assets (e.g., factories and raw materials, inventory).

According to TheTwentyFirstCenturyCorporation, "Attracting, cultivating, and retaining [talented people] will be the indispensable ingredient that will drive the ideas, products, and growth of all companies like never before." (p. 96)

Leadership, I propose, is: the art of attracting and motivating these talented workers to put their talents to work on meeting your goals. Companies that succeed with leadership will have the employees they need doing the sort of work they need. Companies without adequate leadership will suffer greatly because of it.

Leadership is important because it is the best way to get the best people to do their best work for you, and that is TheNameOfTheGame.

-- BobbyWoolf, 08/26/00


In TheServant, JamesHunter writes that the key to leadership is accomplishing the task at hand while building relationships. If a team of people accomplish the task at hand, but end up with nothing but broken relationships afterward, what good is that? In SevenHabitsOfHighlyEffectivePeople, StephenCovey talks about "production" and "production capacity", and emphasizes the importance of maintaining production capacity while producing. The task at hand is production. Relationships are production capacity. If relationships are broken at the end of producing something, production capacity is gone. --RandyStafford


I haven't had a chance to go through all the new leadership links and discussions yet, but personally, I the two most important facets of leadership and what makes leadership so important is (a) ruling over stalemates and (b) removing the blindfolds. Often, people have the misunderstanding that a leader should be an idea person or have the big ideas. To the contrary, I believe he or she shouldn't or at least needn't. More important is that the leader be able to quickly sense a stalemate amoung two or more members of the workgroup and make a ruling on either side. This ability to quickly resolve collisions (when a natural consensus cannot be found) is essential to fluid team work. This needs to be coupled with removing the blindfolds. Consider four workers who need to accomplish some task together. If they are blindfolded, if they are not completely empowered with the knowledge of the master plan, they become insecure, disenfranchised, and less sure of their actions. As a result, they need constant reinforcement and direction just as if they were literally blind folded. Many leaders make the mistake of not even seeing their team is wearing blind folds much less thinking about clueing them into the master plan. -- RobertDiFalco

I'll second that, Robert. The phrase "you don't need to know" shouldn't be in the vocabulary of a technical innovation leader. Somebody with "big ideas" -- ones that work -- is a leader, no matter how you slice it. They can be autocratic or empowering. The pure facilitation model of leadership is more a theory than a reality, in my observation. Player coaches are more reliable leaders than just coaches in our business. --WaldenMathews

The first task for leadership is to set the aim of the organization. How can you lead if you don't know where you want to go? A second attribute of a leader is to make a decision based on data. Speed is not an issue. If you want random decisions, flip a coin, you don't need a leader for that. Leadership is something far more than management, coaching, or employee retention. --WayneMack


I lead by setting an extremely bad example. This usually stampedes the herd in the correct direction without further effort or clout points spent on my part. --PhlIp

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