Why Do We Lead? It’s a simple enough question. Many have a canned answer that moved them through an interview process. However, we often wait for a crisis to understand why we lead.
I Need Ammunition, Not a Ride
When Vladimir Putin recently directed his military forces to invade Ukraine, “why do we lead?” took on a new significance. This invasion forced President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to answer this question.
The United States offered him a safe evacuation. His response: “The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride.”
Several European countries offered him safe asylum. His response: “I will stay in my country, and if I die, I will die with my soldiers.”
Most of us might be catching our first glimpse of President Zelenskyy’s determined leadership. However, his approach to leadership has been in place since his first day in office.
“I do not want my picture in your offices: the President is not an icon, an idol or a portrait. Hang your kids’ photos instead, and look at them each time you are making a decision.” – Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
He made it clear that his presidency wasn’t about himself on day one. It wasn’t about the elected officials governing their country. Instead, it was about making each decision with their children, the future of Ukraine in mind.
Why Do We Lead?
Most of us aren’t fighting to defend the sovereignty of our nation. What about the rest of us?
While it often takes a crisis to understand our why, the best leaders answer that question long before a crisis. When we answer that question, it becomes our compass through the deepest valleys. It becomes a guide through blinding storms. It grounds us when we ascend to the mountain tops.
I’ve mentioned that early in my leadership career, I became focused on the goal of “Level 5 Leadership“. Don’t worry. I’m not yet ready to place myself at the level of the Good To Great leaders. However, this goal has been a helpful standard as I strive to grow.
Jim Collins defines Level 5 Leadership as the combination of an unwavering will and humility. It’s the ability to accomplish anything put in front of you without putting the focus on yourself.
There is one more component of leadership that every leader needs to define for themselves. What is our why? Leaders, what fuels that unwavering will? What overpowers our selfish tendencies and causes us to put others first? Leaders, what is your why?