You’re not a leader if you’re not effective.
What I mean is, even though you may have the title or the authority, it doesn’t do much good if you’re not effective at leading people. Sure, you can rule over people by enforcing your will, but without the desire to serve the folks you lead, and without the ability to make decisions when called upon, you’re not a very good leader at all. Chances are that your peers don’t respect you. Chances are better that your direct reports don’t respect you.
Over the course of my career, I’ve worked for great leaders and terrible leaders. One of the best leaders I’ve worked for was with my first “real” job, selling cars. My boss knew how to talk to his employees, to treat them with respect, to really listen to them when they had concerns or problems, and to do his absolute best to help his employees deliver their best. He wasn’t in it solely for himself, he wanted to share in his group’s success. He wasn’t perfect, and he didn’t magnify his imperfections by insisting on sticking with poor decisions. He listened to his employees’ feedback, and made changes where it was appropriate. He had the integrity to know when he was wrong, and didn’t have a problem with admitting it.
Conversely, one of the worst leaders I had was while working for a large computer company. My boss was a nice enough guy, but he was only in it for himself. He kissed up to the wrong people. Instead of serving his employees, whose performance would directly impact his compensation, he was only concerned with bringing coffee to his upper management. Instead of working to improve his team, he belittled them. His micromanagement harmed more than it helped because it created an environment of fear. Any failures or shortcomings on his team were blamed on his team, and he never publicly turned a critical eye towards himself.
I’ve seen first-hand the negative effects of a poor leader. Good employees, even the great ones, can get burned out struggling to overcome the political and actual obstacles that poor leadership causes. Projects fail, or limp along just above the line of failure.
Leading people is never easy. It takes wisdom to understand what drives people. It takes courage to make decisions, and to accept the consequences when the outcome isn’t good. Being an effective leader is being an effective servant. Lead with humility, integrity, and honestly — remember that a true leader serves the folks s/he leads, and you’ll do well.