I spent the first few years of my career in a state of blissful ignorance. I was learning like crazy, working in a field that I loved, and working at some incredible companies that were achieving great results. It wasn’t until a subsequent stop in my career, at a company that was struggling and poorly managed, that I ultimately learned that all companies weren’t like that.
More specifically, I learned that it wasn’t having a good product, a cool office, great benefits, or even smart employees that made these companies successful. It was leadership that was the ultimate differentiator. Good companies are run by good leaders. Bad ones are not. The harsh truth is that good leadership makes bad companies succeed, and bad leadership makes good companies fail.
What makes leadership so fascinating, is that whether we like it or not, everyone is (or at least needs to be) a leader. Whether leading a team or oneself, you’re going to be leading at some point in your life. It’s a constant in everyone’s life, yet it’s either neglected or treated like a check-box in a way that all of those HR compliance training courses that we suffer through now are. Even as an individual, if we’re working toward a goal, say eating a healthier diet or getting in shape, we’re leading ourselves.
Leadership is how things get done. They don’t just happen on their own, and that’s why it matters so much. It also makes it so much more important for us to pass along a true understanding of leadership to subsequent generations, so that we see a world full of businesses, families, and people that are in a better place than when they started. Leadership matters more than we’ll ever know, and we can’t lose sight of that truth for one second.