A week from today I head for a workshop at the Santa Fe Leadership Center. While many of their programs look fascinting, I'm particularly intrigued by the one I'm attending: Leadership Unplugged: The Inner Landscape of the Leader. It touches upon many of the topics explored at various times in this blog. The topic also is one I ponder regularly.
On the first day we have to introduce ourselves and give three pieces of information. The first two are simple enough--our names and our positions. The third is a bit trickier. We have to expalin why we lead. And we have just sixty seconds for the entire spiel.
That's where I'm struggling, as the answer is pretty complicated. Actually, I'm not sure I really know the answer, at least not in any simple fashion. I'm not going to go through the entire thought process here, but maybe this will help me boil it down while giving you some mental fodder.
First (and I'm not sure I shuld start here, as it's not my best feature), I don't really like being told what to do. Yes, I'll listen, seek advice, want guidance, promote collaboration, delegate substantially. Ultimately, though, I like having a great deal of freedom and responsibility.
I also lead because I greatly enjoy the challenges the role brings. From logistical puzzles to personnel issues, I thrive on the variety each day can bring. It fosters growth and lessens boredom.
Ultimately, I lead for a more ethereal reason. I derive great satisfaction from striving to use my talents for some greater purpose. That fuels my hope that I am doing work which has true meaning and significance.
None of this will come as any surprise to those who have read Dan Pink's Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us. Pink points out that the time-honored carrot-and-stick approach works only for certain rote tasks and only in the short term. Instead, most people draw inspiration from having a sense of autonomy, mastery, and purpose.
Thus, in a sense, I feel as if my answer to the question doesn't dig deeply enough. To reach the eeal point, I want to reframe the question. Given Pink's findings and given the difficulties of real leadership, why do some answer the call of leadership when so many won't?