In Seth Godin’s recent book Tribes (2008) he notes the following reasons that there seem to be few leaders in the workplace. Read this snippet:
Leadership is scarce because few people are willing to go through the discomfort required to lead.
The scarcity makes leadership valuable. If everyone tries to lead all the time, not much happens. It’s discomfort that creates the leverage that makes leadership worthwhile.
In other words, if everyone could do it, they would, and it wouldn’t be worth much.
It’s uncomfortable to stand up in front of strangers.
It’s uncomfortable to propose an idea that might fail.
It’s uncomfortable to challenge the status quo.
It’s uncomfortable to resist the urge to settle.
When you identify the discomfort, you’ve found the place where a leader is needed.
If you’re not uncomfortable in your work as a leader, it’s almost certain you’re not reaching your potential as a leader.
Some of this sounds like Adam Hamilton’s recent description of “leadership by nausea.” That is, if the decision you are making as a leader makes you ill, you are probably on the right track!