What Motivates People To Lead?

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There are eight primary motivations for leading:

  1. by default (no one else wants to lead)
  2. the desire to make a difference
  3. a belief that they are the best suited for the role
  4. other’s belief that they are the best suited for the role
  5. the desire to control and have power over others
  6. ego, status, power and prestige
  7. greed
  8. not wanting to follow others

You can see from the above list that the best leader is a person who desires to make a difference and is the best suited for the role.  Best suited for the role means they have the right combination of experience, skills, attitudes and ability.  So what happens when a person is motivated by the desire to control, enhance their ego, status and power, etc.?

Their decisions, actions and thought processes will be based on their own ego and what’s in it for them – and not necessarily what is right for their stakeholders.  Who wants to follow a leader who is motivated primarily by self-interest?

The best leaders know when to lead and when to follow.  If the leader is motivated by not wanting to follow, then they will insist on leading – even when they are clearly not the best suited for the situation.  The end result is an outcome that is less than what would be possible with the right person leading.

Next time you are choosing a leader, consider these eight motivations and don’t listen to what they say.  Consider their past actions as good indicators of future actions…

© Goldzone Education. All rights reserved.

One Response to “What Motivates People To Lead?”

  1. JCL Says:

    Your point about people leading based on their own ego and what’s in it for them – and not necessarily for what is right for their stakeholders – is in my opinion, realistically sad but so true. Most recently in the newspapers some high profile leaders who held positions as CEOs in high profile companies… decided to “retire early” for their “personal persuits”… and left their teams saddened, fearful and in doubt. It absolutely is in this first quarter of 2009 that leaders are by example showing what their motivations are. As you say… PAST ACTIONS are good indicators of FUTURE ACTIONS…. When the chips are down who is still in the game and playing full out?

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