Why are dedicated leaders needed in the religious life today?

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This is a very broad question which can only be answered with quite sweeping generalizations without narrowing it down somewhat. While a generalization may be generally true, it simply means that you will normally be able to find specific counterexamples in which it is not. At the most general level, therefore, we might say that people are turning away from religion. In America, this is certainly true: the number of people with no specific religious affiliation grows every year. It is also fair to say that various financial and sexual scandals have damaged churches (mainly evangelical Christian churches) to the point where many people are cynical about the motivations of religious leaders. Religious leaders who are dedicated to their pastoral work and preaching, rather than being fixated upon money and power, are therefore needed now more than they have ever been.

Even the very general points made above refer specifically to Christianity in America. This is partly because I assume this is the most familiar example for us to draw upon, but it is also because Christians have tended to emphasize religious leadership more than other faiths. This is less true of some Protestant sects—the Quakers, for instance—but a Christian church is likely to have a fixed hierarchy in which leadership and authority are of some importance. Even the layout of a church, as opposed to a mosque or a Hindu or Buddhist temple, tells you this. Dedicated leaders are therefore arguably more important to a Christian than, for instance, a Buddhist, who may rely more on individual study and spiritual practice. In Christian religious life, dedicated leaders have always played a vital role, which is more important than it has ever been in setting a good example and holding churches together.

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