Why Do You Want to Be A Leader?  

by | Apr 11, 2024 | Leadership

Why do you want to be a leader? This is a question I often ask.   

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak at the University of Michigan and in a leadership and coaching class. One of the first questions I asked was, “Why do you want to be a leader?” We received various answers from the group, most centered around helping and serving others. One participant mentioned wanting to be an example of leadership they didn’t have earlier in life. These were all great answers. 

Interestingly, no one mentioned the title, more money or career advancement. It was all about helping and serving others, which I think is the best reason to be a leader. I don’t believe in chasing titles or money in leadership.   

Whether already in leadership or aspiring to be, reflect on your motivations. Ask yourself why you want to do it. I love leadership. It’s been my calling and my path. I really enjoy being a leader, but it isn’t for everyone. It’s simply the path I’ve chosen, or perhaps it chose me.  

Don’t pursue leadership to climb the career ladder, earn more money, or gain a title. Leadership is hard; it’s not worth pursuing if you don’t have a passion for it. Instead, be a top-line contributor, a frontline industry expert or a subject matter expert within your company. Being exceptional at your job is fulfilling and allows you to impact and serve others. You don’t need a title to be a leader; leadership is about influence.  

I encourage you to gut-check your leadership aspirations and ensure you’re motivated by genuine reasons, such as passion and calling. Otherwise, leadership will be difficult. I’ve seen individuals struggle in leadership roles because they lack the passion to serve and lead others. And that’s okay—not everyone needs to be a leader. I applaud those who recognize this and choose a different path.   

Years ago, a top-performing sales rep told me they didn’t want to go into leadership; they preferred being a resource to others. I said, “Thank you, that’s an amazing answer.” We wouldn’t want to put them in a position where they might not thrive.   

Ultimately, whether it’s titles, career paths or money you seek, they can all come with excelling in your role as a key contributor. You can influence and assist others without holding a leadership title. In a recent blog, Characteristics of “A” Players, I explained that “A players” go above and beyond, excel in their role and help others to do the same. You can do all of that without being a leader. Let’s all take a moment to reflect and ask ourselves why.  

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About Me

I am the President & CEO of Service Express, a National Best & Brightest Company to Work For. Service Express has averaged double digit growth every year since 2001.

We attribute our success to a unique corporate culture that we call The Service Express Way. I am a member of the Young President Organization and sit on the Board of the Spectrum Health Foundation.