Why Do You Lead?

When I write and speak about the concept of “The Grounded Leader,” people seem to be naturally curious in ways that often surprise me.

I have spoken and written about leadership from all angles over the years. I have identified and addressed common challenges, and I have followed the transformation of the word “leader” for decades now. But there is something about the idea of Grounded Leadership that really resonates with people and draws them to my message.

I have to be honest: When the concept of Grounded Leadership came to me, I knew I had hit upon something big, even before I had gotten the chance to share it with you and other leaders.

I think the idea of Grounded Leadership is so attractive to people because it paints a picture of  strength, calmness and powerful influence. It’s not about chasing the next big thing. It’s not about squeezing percentages of productivity out of your people. And it’s certainly not about maintaining the status quo!

Ultimately, being a Grounded Leader means approaching leadership in a deeper, more inclusive manner. It’s about self-awareness, vulnerability and the idea that each moment presents a new opportunity to lead more effectively. It’s a message that goes beyond the superficial leadership-development best practices that have become so commonly accepted these days. To me, that’s why Grounded Leadership resonates. And it’s why this approach to leadership development has become my work’s major priority.

How to Start Becoming a Grounded Leader

The concept of Grounded Leadership is highly appealing to leaders, as they can see themselves operating more confidently and openly in their roles. However, it is not always clear how to get there from where they are.

If you are curious about what it means to become a true Grounded Leader, I encourage you to sign up for my webinar series that begins on February 25th, 2020. If you are interested, sign up here. This is the best, easiest way to get on the fast track to Grounded Leadership, so I hope you get a chance to attend.

Whether you plan on attending the Grounded Leader webinar series or not, I want to share with you this essential piece of leadership advice. If you don’t complete this first step, you might have a hard time finding your way as a leader. In fact, it is essential for becoming a Grounded Leader:

You have to find your leadership “why.”

It’s shocking to know that so many leaders in our world have never question exactly why they want to lead. To me, knowing the “why” of leadership is a must have. And yet, leaders don’t always take the time to examine what has driven and motivated them to choose the path of leadership.

Why It’s Important to Find Your “Why”

I’m sure you can recall leaders in your life who inspired you. I’m also confident that you’ve worked under leaders who were less than inspiring. The difference? I’m willing to bet that the most uninspiring leaders in your life never questioned their leadership “why.”

As you move forward in your leadership career, you will be faced with this choice on an almost minute-by-minute basis: Will you lead authentically, or will you simply play the part of “leader”? I know that for most leaders, they want to make a real difference; they want to be the types of leaders that make a positive impression on everyone they work with and meet on their journey. If you want to make that type of difference in the lives of the people inside and outside your organization, it starts by finding your leadership “why.”

What will your leadership look like? It is totally up to you. You are writing your own story of leadership, and to ensure that it has a happy ending, it is critical to examine why leadership is your calling.

Needless to say, this is serious stuff! Thankfully, every moment represents a new opportunity to check in with yourself, your values and the reasons you followed your calling into leadership. If you haven’t examined your own personal reasons for pursuing a career in leadership, or if you feel your reasons for leading may not be authentic to your values, today is the day you can begin to explore these insights.

It all begins with asking yourself, “why?”

Reasons for Leading

As a leader, you might assume that everyone has the desire to lead. But that is simply not true. In fact, the opposite is true. A few years ago, CareerBuilder surveyed more than 3,500 individuals about their career aspirations. Only 34% of respondents reported that they wanted to take on leadership roles. Just 7% revealed that they wanted to rise to the executive level during their respective careers.

The leadership path is not for everyone and that is totally acceptable and understandable as it does come with a high degree of responsibility. Not everyone is going to want to be accountable for a team and their performance let alone lead and support another human being that you happen to work with. For these individuals, their purpose can be found outside of leadership, and they are able to find success and fulfillment without rising to the top of the corporate mountain.

The key word here is “purpose.” Leaders who know exactly why they want to lead understand the role of purpose in their lives and careers. Most people I have met aren’t in it for the money, prestige or status. They lead because they care about people and recognize the positive impact and contribution they can make by working with others towards a common goal. 

Looking at leadership through the lens of purpose allows you to focus on the real “why” behind your leadership calling. But if you don’t see it as a fulfillment of purpose, you may end up leading for all the wrong reasons and this may play itself out in your communication and behavior.

Purposeless leaders get into their roles for a number of misguided reasons, including:

  • A bigger paycheck
  • An increased sense of power or prestige
  • Higher status, inside the organization, as well as within the community
  • A nicer office and other workplace perks
  • An ego boost that is fueled by the ability to give orders to others

Still others get into leadership because it was chosen for them. Or they found themselves in leadership roles after a series of promotions. They have never really examined their leadership “whys,” which can lead to disengagement and a constant struggle to achieve results.

If you are reading this, I think it’s safe to say you want a higher purpose for your leadership. You want to be authentic, and you recognize the difference between superficial benefits and real purpose. But that might not make it easier for you to discover your true leadership “why.”

What’s in It For You?

Leadership is about inspiring people and adding value to an organization. But here’s a little secret: People within organizations aren’t looking at what their leaders do so much as they are examining why their leaders operate the way they do. It makes a big difference!

For example, your team members may notice that you are a hard worker who frequently goes above and beyond the call of duty to make good things happen. However, if your purpose is to work hard so you can boost your ego or enhance your status, your people will see right through your efforts. On the other hand, if your purpose is to work hard so you can add value to the organization, inspire others and make work easier for your team, people will be eager to follow you.

Do you want to lead because you feel you deserve to be at the top of the organizational food chain?

Or do you want to lead because it is your purpose to make your organization – and its people – better?

There’s a significant gap between the two scenarios, and it all comes down to finding your true leadership “why.”

What’s Your Why?

If you have not spent time focusing on your leadership “why,” you’re not alone. Most leaders go through their entire careers without feeling the need to be so introspective. But you are different. You want to be the best leader possible for your organization. That means you probably need to dig a little deeper to find your “why.”

Finding your leadership “why” will require you to get to know yourself and your values. Self-awareness is critical; it allows you to peel back the layers of your personality and ambition so you can find what is at the core of your career aspirations. It requires you to question yourself and your beliefs, which can be difficult and uncomfortable, to say the least! But at the end of the process, you will feel much more confident about the reasons for pursuing the path of leadership.

I know this might sound difficult but trust me: Finding your leadership “why” will unlock your potential in ways that supercharge your career and make you an inspirational force to be reckoned with.

Do you have questions about the concept of Grounded Leadership? Are you having trouble finding your “why?” I am here for you! Give me a call at 1.855.871.3374 or send an email to joanne.trotta@leadersedgeinc.ca to start the conversation.

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