Should a Leader Be Strong-Willed?

Strong willed leadership

The short answer is yes. But the big caveat is a leader must be strong-willed about the appropriate things. Being strong-willed is not the same thing as strong-arming people into executing your commands. That’s just bullyish authoritarianism. The instance in which we are speaking is being strong-willed and resolute about sticking to one’s principles when things get challenging. Don’t make the mistake of thinking strong-willed is the same thing as headstrong. The meaning we are going for means resilient, not stubborn or mean.

Leaders should be strong-willed in the areas of vision, resilience, decisiveness, courage, and driving innovation. A strong will is needed to overcome the challenges and adversity of leadership. When attempting to innovate, create, and take risks into new spaces difficult challenges are certain to arise. A strong will can help a leader push past the onslaught of problems onto victory.

Leadership is a complex blend of traits and qualities that contribute to an individual’s effectiveness in guiding a team or organization. Even though it is an often-debated aspect, I believe the confusion boils down to a problem of equivocation. As stated in the opening paragraph, a strong will is needed to maintain an appropriate course, stick to one’s principles, and not face leadership burnout on the way to success. In this blog article, we’ll delve into the concept of strong-willed leadership and explore five compelling reasons why it should be considered a valuable attribute.

Clarity of Vision and Direction

A strong-willed leader possesses unwavering determination in pursuing their vision and goals, or the organization’s vision and goals. This resolute focus provides clarity to the team, making it easier for them to understand the direction they’re headed in. Such leaders are less likely to be swayed by external pressures or distractions, ensuring the team remains on track even in the face of challenges.

“The strength and clarity of your vision will lift you out of the depth of any hardship.”

~Robin Sharma~

Resilience in the Face of Adversity

Leadership comes with its fair share of setbacks and obstacles. Layoffs, problem-employees, shifting priorities from on high, challenging work conditions, so on and so forth. A strong-willed leader possesses the mental fortitude to withstand adversity and bounce back from failures. Their determination to overcome challenges sets an example for their team, inspiring them to persevere through tough times and find solutions rather than succumbing to defeat.

The great philosopher Marcus Aurelius likened this type of resilience to that of a burning fire. Whatever you throw on the fire becomes fuel for the fire. This type of indomitable spirit is necessary for a strong will, and great leadership.

Confidence in Decision-Making

Decisiveness is a hallmark of effective leadership, and a strong-willed leader tends to make decisions with confidence. As we often say, passivity is death. A decisive leader uses their resolute nature to enable them to weigh options, consult with relevant stakeholders, and make choices that align with the team’s and organization’s goals. This level of confidence can foster trust among team members and stakeholders alike.

But with everything comes balance. Good leaders also maintain a healthy level of humility and understand they can be wrong, and should always be willing to listen to the counsel of others, especially those who have a proven track record of good and sound judgement.

Courage to Stand for Values

In times of ethical dilemmas or conflicting values, a strong-willed leader is more likely to stand firm in upholding their principles. Refusing to take the easy path at the sacrifice of their ethics. This unwavering commitment to what is right can inspire trust, respect, and loyalty among team members and stakeholders. It demonstrates that the leader’s decisions are guided by a strong moral compass, which can contribute to a positive organizational culture. And trust is a massive cornerstone for anyone wishing to effectively lead a team.

An easy way to avoid ever getting caught compromising your morals is to never actually compromise your morals. You can quote us on that.

Driving Innovation and Change

Innovation often requires breaking away from the status quo and embracing change. Risks are what change the world. A strong-willed leader can effectively champion new ideas, strategies, and approaches, even in the face of resistance. Their determination to push boundaries and explore uncharted territories can foster a culture of innovation within the team or organization.

And if you ever doubt yourself, remember that someone once said out loud in a pitch meeting, “what if we made a movie about a tornado filled with sharks?” If someone’s vision can bring Sharknado into existence, then know there are a lot of good ideas packed inside that noodle of yours too.

So, remember the aim of being strong-willed is not to bulldoze over differing perspectives, but to channel the strength of will towards achieving shared goals. Ultimately, a strong-willed leader has the potential to drive forward progress, inspire resilience, and create a lasting impact on both their team and the organization as a whole. So long as they can avoid the trap of using that will to push others around with their charisma.

Photo by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash

Erik Murrah

Author, nerd, chess player, artist, business owner, runner, mediocre philosopher, outdoorsman. Creator of the Arise Tribe.

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