Why Do We Need Leaders?

A leader’s primary responsibility is to provide clear direction, vision and resources. Regardless if you are a board member, CEO, president or manager, it is your duty to provide these essential elements to help others succeed. As organizations continue to evolve, grow and set aggressive goals, a company needs to position itself to develop more leaders and fewer managers. Why? Because as a company sets its sails to meet market demands, customer demands, elevate productivity and stay on the competitive edge, they need more people that can make decisions (and take responsibility for those decisions), think critically and think outside the usual box. We work with clients who are on the cutting or leading edge in their industry and are putting these words of wisdom into productive use. This is the new norm of doing business no matter what size. If you are a smaller company the better you provide clear direction and focus the mightier and more competitive the business will be.

Let’s face it, every company wants to be on the competitive edge but the true test is their leadership and the leader’s ability to create clear vision, direction and support. Most people believe they are good leaders, know how to communicate, inspire others and are supportive. But when employees are asked for feedback the survey sends shock waves through the executive office. When interviewing and conducting an executive or management 360 interview, here is how a typical conversation will go:

Interviewer, "tell me how well your boss communicates clear direction." Interviewee, "I’m not quite sure what my role is." Interviewer, "what do you mean? You don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing or you’re unsure of your duties?"

Interviewee, "we’ve had some department cutbacks and changes which means I’ve been given more responsibilities but there is no clear vision or communication on what my boss expects me to accomplish other than what I’ve been doing so far." Conversely, it’s frustrating because I need to make decisions and get on with my work but we have not been allowed to make decisions in the past. Our boss wants to be the one making the decisions on everything.

Interviewer, "that must be frustrating."

Interviewer, "what resources or tools does your boss provide to you to help support you with daily tasks, to overcome challenges or any additional training you may need to improve your skills?"

Interviewee, "my boss says ‘it’s not in the budget to provide training at this time’. As staff members we’re trying to get creative and look for ways to help each other out. I’ve asked my boss if we can create a peer to peer environment to support each other, hold one another accountable, help solve daily issues, including a staff facilitated monthly meeting to inspire more collaboration and support. My boss believes that our current meetings are productive and the peer to peer would take more time because he would have to oversee it and he just doesn’t have the time."

As you read through the interview process, it is evident that the leader believes he is a good communicator and supporter of his team. He clearly lacks the skills to inspire and provide the vision, direction and resources his team needs to succeed. Not only does he ultimately fail his team, the boss and the organization also fail. Here are three basics to great leadership.


A leader should be able to clearly articulate the organizational vision in a way that employees can relate to and connect with. An example is providing a service. If you are in healthcare the primary focus is the patient. At the end of the day it is all about creating an exceptional experience (the vision) for the patient and ensuring the patient is happy with the services that are provided to them.


Leaders believe they are providing direction because they are telling people what to do and when to get it done. To set direction, a leader’s message should be clear. Only give enough information to point the employee in the right direction when making decision. This allows the employee to figure out the rest on their own (critical thinking) and leads to a state of empowerment and/or self-direction.


A leader’s job is to provide the tools and resources to their direct reports and identify what each team member needs to succeed. The better you’re able to identify your team’s needs, the stronger, happier, and successful you will all be.

A team enjoys working for a leader who can communicate clearly, provide vision and support, hence, empowerment, self-direction and risk taking. They win, you win and the organization wins!

For more information about creating and developing successful leadership programs or interest in our one-on-one leadership coaching for your organization, contact us at:

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©  Laura Perez Ehrheart | August 26, 2015

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