Leaders often forget that while they are responsible for those they lead, they are at the same time also accountable to the organization that put them in charge. This is because the role of leaders is to achieve the organization’s goals by organizing, directing, controlling, and motivating those they lead.
Organizations will fail when leaders prioritize the needs of those they lead above the needs of the organization. This is because, for a complicated system to operate effectively, there is always a need for sub-optimization, in some parts of the system. Organizations are in greater jeopardy of failure when those accountable for functions, do not themselves follow the system they are accountable for.
Leadership is therefore about balancing the needs of the employee against the larger needs of the organization. A leader that cannot understand, or will not accept, that they are primarily accountable to the organization (and not those they lead) is a bad leader. Their actions undermine the organization’s ability to operate effectively, creating chaos, and may eventually lead to the organization's failure.
Leadership is easy when doing the popular. The true measure of a good leader is how they lead doing the unpopular.