I like strong leaders. I may not always agree with them, but I do admire them. They get things done and they stand out. Strong leaders make their mark, leave an imprint, change the way things are done or considered.
In discussing power and its applications, it seems necessary to list out why strong leadership – powerful leadership – is so important. Granted, there are situations where consensus decision-making may be the dominant style, but even in those circumstances, strong leaders are at work molding and shaping opinion even if they do so using more subtle tactics.
So, here’s my list if 18 reasons why strong leadership is necessary.
- People expect their leaders to lead. They become confused and hesitant when they don’t.
- The void left by indecision and its companion, inadequate communication, will be filled with rumor speculation, gossip, and confusion.
- Without strong leadership, groups lapse into confusion, then chaos, provoke contention and ultimately disintegrate.
- Weak leaders invite attack and suggest wandering. Strong, productive people will not tarry long when leadership is irresolute.
- Strong leadership signals to everyone that the organization functions by principle, those forever and universal truths which govern noble human societies. Without a clear understanding of principle and an unwavering commitment to them, leaders hesitate, vacillate, opine, capitulate, procrastinate, and otherwise stumble.
- People rally behind clarity and certainty.
- In order to participate, follow, and contribute, people need to see and hear faith, confidence, and optimism.
- Weak leadership fuels the fires of pessimism which bring loss of confidence, images of defeat and failure, a sense of helplessness, and ultimately self-contempt. The direct results of weak leadership are the incapacity to summon the will on behalf of a purposeful effort, an unwillingness to take risks, and fatal timidity at the moment of opportunity.
- People respond to weak leadership by taking back the authority they had at one time granted to leaders. As the power base erodes, leadership becomes increasingly weak and finally collapses.
- Strong, persuasive leaders replace old assumptions with new convictions.
- Strong leaders articulate and define a vision that lifts people out of their petty preoccupations, carries them above the conflicts that tear a group apart, and unites them in the pursuit of objectives worthy of their highest efforts.
- Strong leaders can afford to be compassionate and patient because their strength comes from their powers of reason, the relationships they nurture, the vision they articulate, and the service they render not from manipulation, ego, or position.
- People are drawn to strong leaders because strong leaders can put into words what people have been thinking, feeling, and considering but have been unable or afraid to express.
- Strong leaders serve as symbols of stability, movement, and reliability when all else seems fragile, static, and tentative.
- Strong leaders know what to do next, understand why it is important to do that next, and can mobilize resources to make it happen. These three yield a harvest of inspiration, confidence, hope, a sense of security, and real (not imagined) forward movement. I will spend a good deal of time on the subject of vision in leadership, but let me throw out this tidbit now. Successful leaders are those who can create an exciting and passionate success, can align people’s thinking and action toward that vision, and most importantly, can manage their own behaviors to fall in line with the vision they want to realize.
- Strong leadership is necessary because if people could have freed themselves from the chains that bind them to outdated short-sighted thinking and behaviors that have eluded success, they would have done so already.
- Vision never arises from within the people. It comes from gifted, courageous, far-sighted leaders who then articulate, motivate, and inspire people toward its fulfillment.
- A strong leader commits people to action, converts followers into leaders themselves, and enables leaders to become agents of change.
Next week, I will explore power sources, the devices, systems, attitudes, and conditions that empower those who lead others.