3 Reasons Why We Need Leaders

3 Reasons Why We Need Leaders Jonathan Sandling

Why We Need Leaders

There are three fundamental reasons why we need leaders:

  1. Security
  2. Purpose
  3. Achievement
Security refers to the removal of threats and barriers.
Purpose refers to providing vision and belonging.
Achievement refers to accomplishing goals and success. 

We Have A Natural Need For Leaders

We are born with a natural desire to be led.

We do not need leaders because society tells us we do, and we do not need leaders because our employers enforce it upon us, we need leaders because we are predisposed with an inherent need to be guided, nurtured and supported throughout our lives. 

Our natural desire to seek leadership can be linked to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which will be explained in this article.

There are three fundamental reasons why we need leaders.

why do we need leaders
why do we need leaders
why do we need leaders

Leaders Provide Security:
"We naturally seek leadership and guidance from others to minimise the threats and barriers we are facing."

Leaders Provide Purpose:
"Effective leaders are visionaries and able to articulate purpose and meaning in a way which inspires and motivates."

Leaders Provide Achievement:
"Good leaders will greatly enhance our potential for achievement through maximising our ability to perform."

1. Security: Removal Of Threats And Barriers

The first fundamental reason why we need leaders is associated with our fundamental human need for survival. We will do anything and everything to survive and sustain our life.

As children we typically look to our parents for leadership and they will have a significant influence on our safety. They achieve this by aiming to remove threats and barriers which may put our safety at risk. 

As we grow and develop our parents will hopefully have taught us sufficiently so that we are able to keep ourselves safe and healthy.

However, when we reach adulthood we soon find ourselves in new and challenging situations which we have never encountered before. 

This can result in us feeling threatened and insecure, not necessarily for our personal safety or our life, but more for our comfort, pride, integrity and future success.

We will naturally seek leadership, guidance and support from others who can provide it in order to minimise any threats and barriers we are facing.

If our ability to perform to our desired standard is threatened, it can have a negative impact on our future success and progress.

2. Purpose: Providing Vision And Belonging

The second reason why we need leaders is associated with the timeless question humans have asked, “why are we here?” 

Although we have never found a definitive answer to this question it does not stop us from trying. We have a natural desire to understand our purpose and to feel a sense of meaning and belonging in our life. 

Leaders are not able to answer the profound question of, “why we are here?” in its fullest sense. 

However, they are able to answer this question in relation to our work and life. We seek leadership to provide an answer to this question. 

Good leaders are visionaries and are able to articulate purpose and meaning in a way which inspires and motivates others.

Leaders help us to identify, understand and refine our purpose. They help us to align our thoughts and clarify the reasons behind our work.

Humans seek answers and understanding to everything they do and leaders go some way to support this need.

3. Achievement: Enabling Accomplishment Of Goals And Success

The third reason why we need leaders is associated with our desire to grow and develop in order to live a successful life. 

This often becomes more significant once threats have been minimised and purpose has been clarified as a sound platform will have been established for us to succeed.

It is natural to want to be the best you can be, succeed in what you do, learn, grow and develop. Our natural desire to be successful builds upon our need for security and purpose. 

The more we achieve and progress in our careers and lives, typically, the more secure we will be and the more purpose and belonging can be accomplished. 

As children, our parents and school teachers provide us with leadership to support our achievements, but as we find ourselves in new and challenging situations as adults, we are forced to seek leadership from new and more diverse sources.

Good leaders will greatly enhance our potential for success and achievement through maximising our ability to performance. 

They have the ability to support and guide us in all our endeavours. They provide us with what we need, allow us freedom to perform, empower us, reward us and generally facilitate our progress in any way they can.

Leadership And Maslow's Hierarchy Of Needs

Why We Need Leaders Maslows Hierarchy of Needs

The three reasons why we need leaders – security, purpose and achievement – can be neatly aligned with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. 

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs was first proposed by Abraham Maslow, in 1943, in his paper entitled, ‘A Theory of Human Motivation’ in Psychological Review.

The lowest two tiers of Maslow’s pyramid are concerns with ‘physiological needs’ and ‘safety needs’. These are the essential needs for humans and are aligned with the first reason we need leaders – security. 

The middle two tiers of the pyramid are concerned with ‘love and belonging’ and ‘esteem’. With the essential foundation of security in place, love, belonging and esteem can be developed which aligns with the second reason we need leaders – purpose. 

The top tier of the pyramid is concerned with ‘self-actualisation’ and becoming the best possible person we can be. This aligns well with the third reason we need leaders – achievement. 

Maslow’s hierarchical model of motivation and needs provides a good framework for understanding the role leaders play in supporting others.  

If you are interested in exploring this theory in more detail, I would recommend O’Connor and Yballe (2007) who have written a critical review of Maslow’s theory

I would also suggest you read my article which summarises leadership styles as this outlines a range of leadership approaches, how and when they can be used, along with the relative advantages and disadvantages of using each.

Why we need leaders

Author: Jonathan Sandling

Jonathan Sandling

Jonathan Sandling

I have an interest in humour and how it can enhance teaching, learning and leadership. I am a senior leader within the higher education sector in the UK and an EdD candidate at the University of Cambridge.


  1. Great views and perspective. Thank you.

    When I work with clients, on-site and engaging the entire company vs. 1 on 1 CEO coaching, there is usually a lack of leadership (vision communicated clearly).

    While I’m there, I initially focus on bringing out the vision and weaving into the entire retooling project, both internal with employees and external interactions and with customers.

    The challenge, and I’m interested in your experience, is to keep the leadership momentum going AFTER I leave. I filled the leadership vacuum while I’m there and they employees are disappointed and frustrate if my ‘newly trained’ leaders don’t follow through. I’m using follow up CEO coaching to help. What has been your experience and success?

    1. Yes, I agree this is a very tough problem to tackle. Your job as I see it is to support and guide the leaders within the organisation – not to do their job for them. They are the ones who are working day-in-day-out with their staff and it is up to them to promote and engage employees in their vision. Staff cannot be ‘told’ to follow a vision, they need to ‘want’ to follow it, they should believe in it and champion it.

      Strong leadership skills do not come quickly for everyone and your ‘newly trained’ leaders are just that – new. They will need time to develop their skills and gain experience. Support must be provided by more experienced leaders in your absence to ensure your good work is continued and reinforced at all times.

      I am afraid there is no simple answer or fix for this as every person and every business are different and will all present their own unique challenges. I wish you all the best with your future work in this area and I am sure you will find success in this case over time.

      Thanks for reading and commenting, much appreciated!

  2. you are good teacher and you have very experience in leadership so go forward you will be succes man

  3. Really is that why there are dictators, Trump as an ex president and leaders who use their power to for personal gains. Until we learn to emphasize with ourselves our so called leaders (history shows this) will always lead us into wars. Whether that is blood being split or the economy being in deficit. The pandemic shows us that no one can agree a one best way to combat this deadly virus our greed of this planet will be our undoing.

  4. M. Ambrosio,
    It is apparent you are not an educated person looking for guidance. Your statements, while true, have little to nothing to do with the information provided in the video. Yes, history shows horrific leadership, but why do you think people followed these leaders and completed the horrific acts they were told to do? Rewatch the video to find out.

  5. Aimee, no need to insult Mr. Abrosio, I think he is right and the same motivations that make ppl follow a ‘good’ leader make them follow a dictator like Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Putin or Trump

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