In a recent article by the Harvard Business Review titled Why Great Leaders Are in Short Supply, their premise was that there's a dearth of leaders in society that seem capable of getting the job done, whatever the job is, and that as great leaders disappear so also goes the wealth of new and great ideas. They go on to talk about why we need great leaders and what the world will be missing as time goes on.

I've decided to go a different route. I'm going to answer the question, and then I'm going to talk about why I believe what I do.

Our great leaders in short supply? Absolutely! Should we be surprised? Not if you've been paying attention. Let me explain.

Back when I was a kid, when we played sports we kept statistics, and we had absolute winners. The winners always got the biggest trophies, the second place team got a smaller trophy, and everybody else got the general little tiny trophy thanking them for participating in the league. They also used to give trophies for best player, and if it applied most improved player. On the teams themselves, coaches always picked captains, and the captains were usually the best players on the team. Often, only one person would be the captain, and that person would be responsible for making sure that everyone else at least gave the best that they could.

These days, it's rare to go to a child's game and see everybody getting behind the outstanding player. You can usually tell who the best young players are, but the belief is that no child should be put above another child when playing sports. Therefore, everyone gets the same accolades, and almost everybody gets the same prizes. There may be a larger trophy for the teams that finished first, but that's not always the case anymore. It's not so much about winning these days, it's about camaraderie.

There's nothing wrong with camaraderie; making everybody feel good when they give their best is a wonderful goal. However, it takes away from the process of trying to develop leaders. Everybody can't be a leader, but someone has to be the leader. Throughout life there has to be someone who takes control, or at least gets the respect of everybody else so that they can take control. If those people don't have any experience in leading anything, things either won't get done or they won't get done well.

Of course I'll have to tell this to anybody who works in a traditional business. The conversations I have with people don't usually begin with "the person I work for is a great leader". I sometimes hear that they're nice, and every once in a while I hear that they're knowledgeable, but I rarely hear that they're a great leader. As a matter of fact, I hear the opposite almost all the time. I hear that managers don't know what they're doing, they play favorites, they're afraid to take charge, on and on and on.

And every time I hear this I asked the question "well why should we expect anything different?" Take a look at sports teams these days. How many real leaders are there on these teams? In football, everybody assumes that the quarterback is the leader of the team. There's a difference between being a leader based on title and being a real leader. I would hazard a guess and say that maybe there are 10 or 12 good leaders, not including coaches right now, in all of football; I'm not going to name them, because truthfully I don't know all the players in every single team, but I know what I hear and what I read in general.

When I wrote my book Embrace The Lead, a statistic I came across said that 85% of people in the United States had never led anything in their lives. If that stat is true, and that was back in 2001, I doubt that it has improved any over the last decade. Personally, I think the apathy that we see when it comes to people in politics, people and politics, people and religion, people and organizations, and organizations in general gives us another proof in recognizing that there is either a dearth of leadership or that those who want to be leaders aren't getting the respect from others that's needed for them to be effective leaders.

Where do we go from here? I wish I could tell you, but I honestly don't know. I'll say this; for this country to progress the way we all hope it will, it's going to take more leaders than we have now. Contrary to popular belief, everyone doesn't learn leadership and the military so that's not an option. Our schools, whether they be high schools or college, need to help bring more credible leaders to this country because we need them.

Of course, if people want call me... 😉

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