Importance of Leadership

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The Importance of Leadership

D. Quinn Mills Leadership How to Lead, How to Live
© 2005 D. Quinn Mills. All Rights Reserved.

Leadership: How to Lead, How to Live

Few things are more important to human activity than leadership. Effective leadership helps our nation through times of peril. It makes a business organization successful. It enables a not-for-profit organization to fulfill its mission. The effective leadership of parents enables children to grow strong and healthy and become productive adults. The absence of leadership is equally dramatic in its effects. Without leadership, organizations move too slowly, stagnate, and lose their way. Much of the literature about organizations stresses decision-making and implies that if decision-making is timely, complete, and correct, then things will go well. Yet a decision by itself changes nothing. After a decision is made, an organization faces the problem of implementation—how to get things done in a timely and effective way. Problems of implementation are really issues about how leaders influence behavior, change the course of events, and overcome resistance. Leadership is crucial in implementing decisions successfully. Each of us recognizes the importance of leadership when we vote for our political leaders. We realize that it matters who is in office, so we participate in a contest, an election, to choose the best candidate. Investors recognize the importance of business leadership when they say that a good leader can make a success of a weak business plan, but that a poor leader can ruin even the best plan.


The Importance of Leadership

Who Will Gain from Leadership? Do you want to be a leader? Or, if you’re already a leader, do you want to improve your leadership? Do you want to affect what other people do—to help them accomplish important goals? Do you want to point the way in your organization? Do you want to climb the promotion ladder to positions of higher authority and greater pay? Leadership will make these things possible. You should read this book if: • • You are interested in leadership and how it affects you. You plan to lead an organization or are already in a leadership position. You are interested in developing yourself to meet the challenges you will confront in a leadership role. You wish to make a difference in the world through leadership.

The Meaning of Leadership What is leadership? It is a process by which one person influences the thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors of others. Leaders set a direction for the rest of us; they help us see what lies ahead; they help us visualize what we might achieve; they encourage us and inspire us. Without leadership a group of human beings quickly degenerates into argument and conflict, because we see things in different ways and lean toward different solutions. Leadership helps to point us in the same direction and harness our efforts jointly. Leadership is the 11

Leadership: How to Lead, How to Live

ability to get other people to do something significant that they might not otherwise do. It’s energizing people toward a goal. Without followers, however, a leader isn’t a leader, although followers may only come after a long wait. For example, during the 1930s Winston Churchill urged his fellow Englishmen to face the coming threat from Hitler’s Germany. But most Englishmen preferred to believe that Hitler could be appeased—so that a war could be avoided. They were engaged in wishful thinking about the future and denial that the future would be dangerous. They resented Churchill for insisting that they must face the danger. They rejected his leadership. He had very few followers. But finally reality intruded—Germany went too far and war began. At this point Churchill was acclaimed for his foresight, and became prime minister of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. During this period almost all Englishmen accepted his leadership willingly. True...
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