Leadership is an issue that frightens a great many people and yet often they lead naturally. Recently I was talking to a ‘Team Leader’ at an event and I asked him who he lead. He denied leading anyone but merely stated that he was a team manager not a leader. Why is there such a stigma attached to leadership?

Teachers lead, parents lead, coaches lead- there are not many roles in life that don’t involve a leadership role  somewhere and if they don’t they involve followership which is critical to effective leadership. Good leaders are great followers, as they have to have learned their leadership somewhere, therefore most good followers have the capability to become leaders all they need to do is want to lead.

I believe it is the fear of responsibility that drives people away from leadership. they fear accountability and they fear failure. Humans are often pessimistic about outcomes and therefore expect  to fail; to lead therefore would be driving failure. It is overcoming this fear of failure that is one of the key attributes of good leadership, be aware of it but don’t be frightened by it. Striving for success is what leadership is all about and that requires vision, courage and determination. Vision to see the success, courage to keep believing in yourself when others doubt you and determination to keep going when the outcome appears a long way off.

Managers are the police force for leaders and they are vital to successful leadership. They ensure targets are met, expectations are understood and resources allocated they don’t drive the outcomes like leaders do because they live in the present  and not the future. It is leaders who bear responsibility for the future as they have the vision, set the direction and inspire their teams. For me it is that burden of responsibility that frightens people away from leadership. Overcoming that fear is key to training great leaders for the future.

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