When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, he oversaw a company rebirth that has shaped the way the world works today (I’m typing this on a MacBook).
His creativity and ingenuity get massive praise, but his leadership is one of the real reasons he was able to steady the ship and make the company the industry leader. (And boy, do they need Steve Jobs now. A $999 monitor stand?)
Companies today are beginning to understand the true impact of great leadership. Some are investing millions into leadership development. But do the leaders themselves feel the same way? Despite spending those millions in training, 0ver 70% of those companies still think their leadership is unable to take them to the future.
A problem could be that most don’t see the gravity of their role. To them, leadership is a way to earn more money, earn leverage on others, or just to stop doing entry-level work.
Managing and leading a team can be one of the most challenging, time-consuming, and sometimes unrewarding roles. But it’s one of the most important. If you’re a leader or aspiring to be one, here’s why you should be taking it seriously.
Your name is on the line
When you ascend to leadership, the spotlight is on you. The higher you go, the brighter that light and the easier it is to fall.
You may have reached that height based on your qualifications and experience, but you will stay on that height based on your good name.
As a leader, each time you miss a deadline, undermine or belittle someone, or don’t do the things that you say you were going to do, you lose a little stock.
And as your credibility decreases, it’s harder for your team to take you seriously. It’s also harder for you to do your job properly, so you try to force the issue, making things worse.
Great bosses are spoken about in rooms they’ve never stepped foot in before; their reputation precedes them. The thing is, so are bad ones.
You truly own your name and your reputation as a leader and a person of character.
You’re costing yourself — and your company — money
Think you don’t pay the cost to be the (bad) boss?
- A bad boss is usually the reason for the high turnover. Over 90% would stay in their company if their bosses showed more compassion and empathy. It takes up to 50% of an employee’s annual salary to find a suitable replacement.
- Poor leadership means poor productivity, costing the company millions in potential revenue.
- Leadership decisions keep the wrong people in the wrong positions, potentially creating multi-million dollar errors.
- Customer satisfaction declines as employees are not happy and engaged, causing long term revenue loss due to lack of retention.
- Poor managers will eventually make less money as they will be afforded fewer opportunities, can potentially miss out on promotions or get fired.
A leader can move the needle in any direction. Which one do you want to be?
You can affect someone’s career — and life
Though there’s much I would like to do, I would not be where I am today if not for the leaders in my teenage years and early work career.
The right leader can motivate you to take action, accelerate your growth and help you feel safe while you attempt things you’ve never done before. That person could be the reason you decide to pursue a particular field of study or work.
The best and brightest in the world today would not be where they are without their mentors leading them and helping to shape their future.
On the flip side, leaders who are abusive or take advantage of their power can change someone’s life for the worse.
Imagine the longterm psychological and career impact of the men and women emotionally or physically abused by their former bosses. Having that level of power should not be taken lightly. What kind of impact do you want to have on the lives of those you lead?
Leaders can change the world
The world would not be where it is today if not for Mandela, MLK, or Mother Teresa.
They took their roles seriously. They were relentless for success, steadfast in their message, and brought persons together for a common cause.
The right one can make the world a little bit better or a little bit worse. For instance, imagine how things would be if leaders did not fight for equality?
Or think of a polarizing figurehead like Trump, who’s changed the way the world thinks of politics. It’s not a stretch to say ten years ago persons like Bolsonario in Brazil or Duterte in the Philippines would not have risen to power.
You may have a small scope of power. But with it, you can change your community or impact one person. And starting with one person, the world can be changed.
Finding the right leaders is one of the hardest things organizations have to do. Without them, any endeavor is destined to fail.
If you lead people — a company, team, or a family — your impact determines everyone’s personal, emotional, and financial success. It’s why it’s so important you do the job with care.
As a side note, don’t try to take yourself too seriously. An important quality is that he/she should be a joy to be around; with a focus on the mission but a willingness to learn and change.
With great power comes great responsibility.