I’ve been fortunate enough to find myself in a position of significant leadership at a young age (no that’s not me on the left, ha). I started and built my own real estate company at the age of 25 and dealt with hundreds of contractors, bankers, agents, vendors and customers. Six years later, I now help lead a campus at one of the most influential churches in the country (LifeChurch.tv) and deal with hundreds of leaders, staff members, volunteers and other church pastors. I have a lot of friends in similar high-profile leadership positions: CEO’s, presidents, sales VP’s, Senior Pastors.
From the outside looking in, leadership can give the mirage of one word: sexy. Yes, there are fun days combined with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Yes, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Still, leadership comes with its fair share of unpleasantries. Are you ready for them? Here is Why Leadership Ain’t Always Sexy (I know “ain’t” isn’t a word, but I grew up in East Texas and think its funny):
Sacrifices. Here are a few things I’ve had to give up: hobbies, certain holidays with family, financial opportunities, certain social engagements with friends. Living like no one else so you can lead like no one else. All sacrifices. Be ready to make sacrifices.
Decisions. Tough decisions. Telling someone they aren’t a fit in a role and should step down. Telling a team member they are not performing in an area and a change needs to be made. Going with an unpopular decision. Backing up an unpopular decision. Making another unpopular decision. You get the idea. Be ready to make tough decisions.
Feedback. Tough Feedback. Putting yourself in a high-profile leadership position demands transparency and openness to tough feedback. Hearing what isn’t easy to hear. Being willing to seek out and get feedback. Having weaknesses exposed and confronted. Saying what isn’t easy to say. Be ready for tough feedback.
Critics. Anytime a bold leader steps out in faith, there will be critics. Critics are different than those giving tough feedback. Blaming. Questioning. Doubting. Attacking. Critics. You listen and you discern. You learn to be confident is who you are becoming. Me personally? You always seek feedback, but you discern the feedback from the critics. A lot of times I just ask critics to send me an email at email@example.com. Nonetheless, leaders will always have to deal with criticism. Be ready for the critics.
Change. Constant change, constant information. One day this works, the next day that doesn’t work anymore. Leadership requires intense adaptability and expectation of change. Change. Change. Change. Be ready for change.
Lonely. Visionary leadership often requires one to jump way out in front of what is popular or even current. Way out in front. It requires the leader stepping out before anyone else and paving the way, then asking others to consider that way. Out where there is no one else. Leadership can be a lonely place. Be ready to be lonely.
Pedestal. People put you on a pedestal and even assume you are not a real person. You must work hard to create authenticity, relevance and engagement with others, simply because you will be put on a pedestal. Be ready to be put on that pedestal by others. Then work to take yourself off the pedestal!
Why other things are tough about leadership and why? Please share!
You may also enjoy: 10 Essentials of Online Leadership, Leadership Ain’t a Title: How To Gain Influence Where You Are Now, The Player Piano and Leadership: Writing Your Own Song in Life, Want to Lead? Prove It!