The typical discussion on leadership usually revolves around the qualities or gifts that good leaders share, such as integrity, team player, protector, teacher and mentor. In addition, most leaders are pretty good problem solvers and visionaries.
What we don’t hear is the downside of leadership. With this gift of leadership comes the mantle of responsibility. When you stop and think about it for a moment, who is the person everyone turns to when a crisis erupts? The leader, of course. It’s because they tend to be innovative thinkers; many are able to distill complex problems and get to the root of the matter very quickly. In some ways, they are like magnets where people seek them out, it can’t be helped, it’s just part of who they are.
True leaders don’t begrudge this, they know it’s what they signed up for. They also know that by the time it gets to them, their team has already tried everything they can to resolve the issue, because leaders empower their people. At this point, it’s usually a significant problem that will require some heavy lifting on their part.
Another reality of being a leader is that your mistakes are on display for all to see, there’s no place to hide. True leaders understand this and accept this reality. Of course, their successes are also equally as visible but then again people expect them to be successful and are generally surprised when things go amiss. So true leaders work hard to deliver what they promised. Not because of the accolades or to feed their egos, but because it’s what they believe.
Many times leaders need to just take charge of a situation when no one else is willing. They need to gather the resources, set the tone and direction, control everyone’s emotions and focus everyone’s activity on the end game. True leaders don’t usually try to run the plays but more often than not quietly call the shots from the sidelines, letting the team shine. But when necessary, they have no problem getting in the game for a few plays to show what can be done and then just as quickly return to the sidelines.
Part of the burden of being a leader is that they are always “on”. They rarely have the luxury of having a bad day, at least in front of anyone. They are the ones that people turn to for inspiration, they are the ones that motivate you to reach higher and are more than willing to roll up their sleeves to offer help when needed. Yet, they don’t have the same support, but then again many don’t need it. They get their motivation and inspiration from helping people be better.
So being a leader can be a real pain, with little hope of downtime, when everyone expects you to be the visionary, the innovator, the motivator and the coach. But you know what… the really good leaders wouldn’t trade the job for a moment!
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