Leaders are made. Leaders are developed. Leaders are the product of intent and context, of purpose and events. Leaders take the lead, or sometimes find themselves leading, or sometimes by following leaders create impact. If you still believe that some people were “born to lead”, then you likely are viewing leadership from a very limited perspective, defining it with a limited set of characteristics, or accepting it in limited circumstances. Moreover, belief in born leaders places you either inside or outside an exclusive club that simply does not exist.
Whew, I’m glad that’s out of the way. Now, to the subject I really want to write about.
Why did you become a leader?
First you must answer this: Have you become a leader? Have you determined a specific direction for your life and pursued it with the courage that comes only to one who knows where he or she is going? Has the purpose you have chosen to live for attracted others in search of the same thing? The measure of a leader is in the results produced by followers through their own discretionary actions in pursuit of the leader’s mission. Who follows you? What value are they adding to the world by following your direction?
How did you become a leader? Some say they became leaders when they were asked to lead (these may be the same people who believe in born leaders!). Being asked to take a formal leadership role does not make you a leader. Invitation to leadership merely creates context and opportunity. Invitation merely creates the venue for potential leadership. Leaders are developed in the pursuit of a mission beyond their singular ability to achieve, through noble values and a shared quest for virtue. Leaders are the product of those who want to follow them.
But why did you become a leader?
Back to my original question… My guess is that your answer and that of most leaders arises from the specific direction that you sought or still seek with passion. You had a cause, a mission, an agenda. You became effective as a leader through pursuit of a dream, and the subsequent struggle, failure, success, reward and consequence, much like gold ore is purified into 14 karat gold.
Then perhaps you are ready for the ultimate step our most admired leaders always take. You may need to lose your own agenda for one far greater. Perhaps God has a mission for you for which everything else you have done up to now is preparation.
You need to let go of the things that brought you here.
Only then can you become a true leader.