I think that a fundamental element of leadership failure is forgetting that the major role of a leader is to represent the stakeholders in whatever enterprise you are leading.

Any one of your stakeholders can put you out of business if you fail them or upset them.

It seems that in recent years the focus has become more and more about “What’s in it for me?  What do I get out of this?  What is my payoff?”  Well remember, every organization has numerous stakeholders who also want to know the same thing…”What is in it for them?”  You are there to represent the interests of ALL of your stakeholders.  Focusing on your own interests is unlikely to serve the interests of all your other stakeholders.

We seem to have lost sight of one very simple notion of what leadership is.  Leadership means going first and getting other people to follow…setting a direction, determining the strategies and objectives to move the organization in that direction, and then developing the support from the people around you to accomplish the tasks necessary achieve those objectives.

That direction must represent the interests of your stakeholders.  There must be something in it for them?  You cannot get there without their support.  You must understand what is in it for them and make it attainable within the context of the business goals and objectives.

Finally, here is a sobering thought.  While having the support of your stakeholders will significantly increase your likelihood of success, the opposite is also true.  Any one of your stakeholders can put you out of business if you fail them or upset them.  Think about that!

Leadership is NOT about you…it is about your stakeholders and what you must do to earn their support!