The Reason We Take the Leap

October 6, 2014

Leadership comes with all sorts of headaches and complications. At some point, I’m sure every leader sits back and asks the question, “how did I acquire all this stress?” Sometimes the magnitude of responsibilities is so overwhelming that would-be leaders count the cost and pass up the opportunity altogether.

There’s no question that leadership isn’t easy. But when done right, it’s always worth it. When the stress becomes overwhelming, it can be helpful to take a step back and consider the reasons we took the leap in the first place. Here are some of the common ones.

Jumping Off Cliff

Today Isn’t Good Enough

When everything is as it should be, the need for leadership doesn’t exist. As the saying goes, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. But when we catch a vision of a better future – combined with a conviction that someone ought to do something to make it happen – that’s usually when we enlist. Leadership isn’t about positive feelings, it’s about creating positive change. And that means getting our hands dirty in the process of creating a brighter future. The clearer the picture, the more likely we are to sign up.

We Can’t Get There Alone

If we could create the future we want by ourselves, we wouldn’t need others to follow us. It’s only when the work becomes more than we can accomplish on our own (as is usually the case with anything worthwhile) that we need to enlist others to help us get there. But they aren’t following us per se – they are joining us in pursuit of a better future.

You’ve probably noticed a difference in people aspire to lead in order to take responsibility for creating change and those who just want to be in charge. No one wants to follow someone who only wants a title. There’s no dignity in being a pawn for someone else’s agenda. But when we give people the opportunity to do what they do best to create a future they believe in, the possibilities are endless.

We Want to Become Something More

Zig Ziglar liked to say that each of us is endowed with the seeds of greatness. At any rate, most of us probably feel like we’re capable of something more. That’s usually a factor in why we take the plunge. It’s true that leadership is a process and it’s not always a pretty one. But the wise ones know that who we become along the way is more important than what we accomplish. Or how good it looks or how long it takes.

The Next Generation Matters

There’s a lot of talk these days about the “next generation.” But most of us would agree that we ought to leave things in better shape for those who come behind us. The next generation could the incoming class of students, this year’s interns or the high potential group. Or it could literally be the next demographic generation – or your even own children. The bottom line is that these people matter. And they won’t get where they need to go on their own. The sacrifices we make and the responsibility we take can make all the difference for them.

Leadership expert and former colleague Robert Thomas noted that sometimes events conspire to make us a leader. The circumstances we’re in may not be the result of our choices, but they may provide a unique opportunity to make a difference. Leadership isn’t easy, but many times it’s necessary. So when the going gets tough, take a moment to remember why you got started.

Nathan Magnuson is a leadership consultant, coach, trainer and thought leader.  Receive his new ebook Trusted Leadership Advisor by subscribing to his website  or follow him on Twitter.