Why Do I Want To Be A Leader?


Reposted from the Harvard Business Review:

“One of the longstanding dichotomies in the field of leader development is whether to teach leadership as skills that lead to higher performance (a competency-based model that is relatively easy to metric), or to teach leadership as a complex moral relationship between the leader and the led (a values-based model that is challenging to metric).  Our study demonstrates that those who lead primarily from values-based motivations, which are inherently internal, outperform those who lead with additional instrumental outcomes and rewards.

The implications of this study for leader development — and practice — are profound. In business, the cost of leader development programs is often measured, or at least estimated, as an instrumental consequence — an increase in performance of the organization resulting in a return on investment for the program. This is reasonable, given estimates that place the annual cost of leader development at more than $60B . It is important, though, that talent managers and executive decision makers do not allow external consequences of leader development to become externalmotivations among organizational leaders.  If those we seek to develop as leaders adopt external justifications for leading well — such as an increase in shareholder value, better pay or perquisites, or increased profits — they are likely to be less successful as leaders in comparison to those who seek to lead for more internal, intrinsic reasons alone.

If you aspire to lead in business or society, first ask yourself, “Why do I want to be a leader?” The answer to that question, as it turns out, will make a significant difference in how well you lead.”

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