Part of the “being” in human being is growing an awareness of what it means to be ourselves and the satisfaction of our needs. Whether finding something recognized as leadership either internally or externally, the need for some level of leadership is present in the human psyche. Although the depth and quality may vary, the very fact that so much devotion has been given to defining leadership and to increasing it, suggests that we, as humans, need to experience leadership in some way in order to satisfy an inner need.
As we define the necessity of leadership, we must either learn or remember that doing the things that matter will define the level of successful leadership we obtain for ourselves. If we cannot achieve a level of leadership ourselves, then we look elsewhere for those we believe meet the definition best. As suggested by Carl Rogers, humans have evolved to want the things that are “good”. Whether that is food that tastes good or interacting within a positive environment, we are conditioned to seek out the good things in life as we define them.
When thinking of leaders, many may jump to high profile individuals with big public personalities. Those that gravitate toward such leaders seek to satisfy this need for leadership in an external manner. This is also demonstrated through the frequent emulation of people perceived as being great leaders even though it is easier to imitate the faults and weaknesses of these leaders than it is to truly capture their essence of true leadership. The creation of such leaders is often done with great liberty and the hero is always a product of constructive imagination. Since this happens often, an inner need must be driving the human mind to bring this reality to life.
The necessity for leadership can also be satisfied through internal creation of leadership characteristics. These individuals can lead through appeals to ourtendencies to develop our individuality and self-will. Often, the leaders with strong internal leadership skills are not heroes seeking public glory, but seek to do the right thing for their organizations, the people around them, and for themselves. By stepping beyond the traits shown by external leaders, these individuals have fufillled the human necessity of needing leadership from within their own skills and abilities. Being patient, careful, and determined allows these internally focused people to bring leadership to the forefront without being grand and needing external vindication to satisfy their needs.
Whether received through finding an external leader to follow or by developing our own internal leadership dynamics, I believe the need for leadership is real. In a leadership vacuum, it is inevitable that someone will step in as a leader. Determining if that leader is good or bad is often dependent on multiple points of view and can most easily be defined by each person for themselves since individuals are always a part of the larger society. Leadership begins with each individual and it is up to each individual to define their own definition of leading others. As human resource professionals, we certainly have an obligation to define and refine leadership in our respective organizations.
(Picture credit : romanemperors.com)