Why people do not lead?

Updated: Mar 19, 2018

Over past years leadership has not only become a broadly used term, but almost reached the level of being cliché like globalization, crisis, or economy.

As leadership skills gained value in both

the global and local labor markets, and in different parts of the world, courses, workshops, school programs and studies on leadership appeared.

This changed the perception of what is

needed in managing human resources and opens a discussion of alternative forms of motivating people. One could easily

point out outstanding examples of leaders who managed to be heard and followed by mass of people. However, at the same time is hard to not have the impression that there is lack of leadership in daily life of many companies, organizations and working teams. This raises a question. If leadership is so important, profitable, and learn-able, why do some not lead? Several answers come to


Because they manage

There is significant difference between leadership and management which many books, articles and presentations aim to explain. The issue is of course more complex, but presenting it in one sentence we could say, a manager tells people how to do things; a leader develops people to do those things. In other words, managing involves direct instructions, positional power, control, minimalizing risk and conflict while leadership plays with risk and conflict, use inspiration (achieved differently through different styles of leadership) rather than commands, and sets directions instead of giving strictly planned objectives.

I would not dare to say that one is better than another. They demand different attitudes both from the one who initiates the action (leader/manager) and the one who is supposed to realize the action (follower/subordinate). The difficult beauty of leadership is created by the fact that leading is a relation which requires trust and taking responsibility from both sides – leader and follower. And only in this way can the process of leading and following be fulfilled successfully.

Because they over/underestimate themselves:

Most of the leadership theories say that good leader should have a slightly overestimated vision of his/her abilities. I would say having a clear and realistic vision of your advantages and disadvantages is enough. You do not have to be superhero to lead.

The problem occurs when someone’s ego is to high or to low. In the first case, one stops asking questions and starts simply manage people by telling them what they should or should not do. Another possibility is that one does all things by him or herself, as it seems to be the way to get things done with the best quality. In the second case, when someone’s ego is to low, he or she will be always struggling with the belief that no one would ever follow him or her. This fear can end by not taking action at all and leave the team alone. But it may also result in despotic behaviors and create a work environment with a high rate of control (especially when one already holds a power position). Needless to say that great leader

had doubts, but at the end they believe in themselves, theirs visions and the ones they lead. At the same time great leaders stay open for changes and other’s opinions.

Because they do not want to

In some cases the answer is as simple as that. Leadership is a highly effective and fascinating way to gets things done, but at the same time it is one of the most challenging endeavors and not everybody is strong and determined enough to take this risk. It is the matter of placing people in the right positions, and developing them to use their strengths and grow abilities in their areas of weakness. When the right people are in the right places and develop their strengths, then you can get great mentors, people inspired enough to follow, and leaders who are able and willing to lead. Additionally you can get the synergy among these that can create an unforgettable (although not always happy) story. When the person is forced to lead while he or she does not want to, the best you can get is tragicomedy.

Milena Kochanska,

LDI Intern

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