A career is a series of steps, each one taken on our faith in what we’ve learned from those who walk ahead of us. But the sense of direction granted from the insights of previous travelers extends beyond the boundaries of one path. Direction doesn’t tell us where to go. It tells us where we can go; it illuminates the reality of both departure point and destination, shedding light on countless possible routes in between. And people need direction, precisely because we’re not born with some innate, individual instinct for it. From our first breaths to the start of our professional lives and beyond, we constantly trust in the authority of others’ experiences to inform our own decisions. Without direction, there would be no progress.

Becoming someone who people trust to follow is a journey in itself, one that only the persistent can weather. This is because great leaders do not blindly command, they suggest and advise based on knowledge gained from those who led them. Regardless of whether it’s professional or personal, leaders realize their efforts are necessary. Developing the traits that distinguish great leaders will not only ensure you perform an essential human service, but point you firmly in the direction of progress as well. If you’re still unconvinced, below I’ve listed just a few of the reasons leadership is an important quality to possess.

Leaders Inspire

When you accepted your current job, did you expect to stay in that position indefinitely, your efforts never recognized or rewarded? Probably not. In fact, you might’ve been awed by the presence, knowledge and penchant for leadership of your boss, or others. You might’ve witnessed the finesse with which they handle difficult clients; the ease with which they mitigate potentially disastrous scenarios, and set winning renown in your industry as your goal. Or perhaps you feel your boss is inept and unqualified, and you’re certain that you could (and will, eventually) do a much better job. Either way, a leader has inspired you to achieve.

Leaders Strategize

Any organization, no matter its size or function, has a purpose; a mission which is always considered when formulating strategies. Leaders consider the pitfalls and positive points of every feasible strategy. They combine a practical assessment of objectives needed to be completed for a goal to happen with a theoretical pattern of potential actions, and settle on an approach which achieves the most objectives and minimizes negative results for everyone invested.

Leaders Delegate

To reach a goal, someone needs to assign tasks. Delegating responsibilities is a primary function of the leader, the individual who is trusted above others to hold a position of authority. Handing out jobs is far from the most fulfilling aspect of leadership, but it is essential for everyone’s success in the long run.