The Significance of Leadership

Why everyone needs leaders in their lives

Had Jeff Bezos not been a leader, Amazon could be in a different state right now.

Leadership is an important and sometimes under appreciated quality in everyday life. You have the obvious leaders, like the president, but leadership is not limited to just those. There are leaders in every industry: business, sports, education and so many more. Leadership is necessary for these industries to stay afloat. It’s important to encourage leadership and attempt to persuade non-leaders to become them. Let me explain the value of leadership.

Sports is the best example of leadership out there, in my opinion. Do you ever notice what teams are really good in their sport? It’s the ones that have leaders. Just look at the New England Patriots. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are two of the greatest examples of leaders you can find. They have won six Super Bowls, 16 division titles (10 straight) and are a quarterback-coach duo that will be regarded as the best in NFL history. Belichick is so much of a leader that he is the general manager of the New England Patriots on top of being the head coach.

It’s important to encourage leadership and attempt to persuade non-leaders to become them. 

You can also look at the NBA. LeBron James is one of the best leaders basketball has ever seen. During his first stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers, they were constantly in the playoffs and made a NBA Finals appearance. The season after he left Cleveland to join the Miami Heat, the Cavaliers won only 19 games. He then went back to Cleveland after two Finals wins in Miami, and the Heat failed to make the playoffs the following season. After leading Cleveland to the finals in 2018, LeBron left to be a part of the Los Angeles Lakers. The Cavaliers are one of the worst teams in the league this year.

Because of this noticeable trend, people call this the “LeBron Effect.” He changes the league, not only because he’s a hall of game player, but also because he’s an exceptional, one of a kind leader. You can be a really good NBA player and not be a leader.

Look at Kawhi Leonard. He’s arguably a top-five NBA player, but he has never been regarded as a leader. Why? He doesn’t talk a lot and doesn’t have an effect on his teams like LeBron does. Leonard was traded to the Toronto Raptors in the 2018 offseason from the San Antonio Spurs. While the Raptors are a top team in the East this year, they were before Leonard arrived. The Spurs on the other hand, are still in the playoffs as of today. This is because San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich is way more of a leader than Kawhi is. He can do more with less.

Leadership is an important and sometimes under appreciated quality in everyday life. 

This is why leadership plays a huge role in sports. One of my favorite sports examples of leadership happened this year. UCLA basketball player Moses Brown made an ill-advised pass that led to a turnover late in the game. He walked to the other side of the court with his head down. His teammate Jaylen Hands walked over to him and lifted his chin up. I encourage anyone who hasn’t seen it to watch it, as it shows in one video what leadership is all about.

Successful businesses also possess great leaders. All money-making businesses are anchored by their bold owners. These are people not afraid to take risks and believe in themselves. Amazon is a booming business led by a terrific leader, Jeff Bezos. Bezos uses the term “work-life harmony” instead of the more standard “work–life balance” because he believes balance implies you can have one and not the other. He believes work and home are interconnected and that they work together. He goes easy on his employees by not scheduling early morning meetings and uses the “two pizza rule.” This rule means that meetings need to be small enough to where two pizzas can feed everyone in the room. He only does what’s necessary to get the job done and isn’t afraid to do things differently. Those are some of the most important characteristics needed to be a leader.

Not all people are born leaders, however. Some developed into one due to influences. Bezos said he was influenced by fellow successful businessman Warren Buffett to become a leader of his own. This is why leadership is so important. Leadership can ripple among others and allow them to pick up on it and potentially transform them.

Alex Smith was a veteran quarterback on the Kansas City Chiefs with then rookie Patrick Mahomes behind him on the depth chart. Smith led the team to a playoff appearance and taught the young Mahomes how to lead a team. What happened the following year? Mahomes became MVP of the NFL and a unique leader of his own.

Leadership can be seen in schools, even here at North Dakota State. You have fraternity and sorority leaders, campus involvement leaders, that one leader on the court at the Wellness Center. There was also always that one kid in your high school that was an all-around leader. Typically those people were captains in a sport, but that’s not always the case.

All it takes is kindness and empathy. If you’re able to reach out to others and help them reach their goals, that’s a great step toward becoming a great leader. Anyone can become a leader — it’s just up to you to decide that.

There are two kinds of people in this world: leaders and followers. Which one will you choose to be?

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