“I feel the need…the need for speed!” Goose and Maverick, from Top Gun. I get it. As an astronaut, I’ve had the privilege to fly in space at ten times the very top speed of their trusty F-14 steed. Five miles every second, rounding the Earth in just ninety minutes, is indeed fast.
Even “back in the day” before becoming an astronaut when I was a US Air Force attack pilot, I had that itch too, flying the world’s fastest low-altitude attack aircraft, the F-111 Aardvark. Addictive, eye-watering, can’t-believe-they’re-paying-me kind of awesome to get to scream along at those kind of speeds just a few feet above the deck.
But as necessary as speed is—speed of execution, speed to market, outspeeding competitors—this blog entry is about another need, an even more compelling and important one, for individuals at every level within every type of organization.
No matter who you are, where you serve, how junior or senior on your team, you’ve got to “feel the need…the need to lead!” The world cries out for effective, purposeful leaders. Today’s flatter, more nimble organizations need more leaders, not fewer.
Leadership is at its core nothing more than influencing others for good. That’s an aspiration everyone in the workplace, home, community organizations, and communities ought to have.
If you’re even reading these musings, it’s safe to assume you have at least a kernel of interest in further developing your own leadership. With that assumption, ask yourself these three countdown questions about your willingness and desire to lead:
3. Do I have a service-before-self orientation? If you can honestly answer yes, then you’ve set the first and most important condition on why you should want to exercise influence. You do it for others, not your own selfish motivations.
2. Do I really want to make a difference? If you’re fine just accepting a given status-quo, then stop here. Otherwise, consider that to fulfill a mission that matters, you must steadfastly make up your mind to be an agent of change.
1. Do results matter to me? Purpose-powered leadership is about results that count. Effective execution, not just feel-good words or guidance, makes the difference between the peak performing teams and the also-rans.
With the right core values and motivations, striving to be a leader is a valuable, potentially even noble aspiration. Make it compelling in your own sphere of influence with the proper perspective and approach, and you will set the stage to grow your leadership.