In leadership, as in all things, there are tough realities we all have to face.
We can wish it were otherwise, and we can work to make it otherwise to the extent we are able, but whatever the situation, you’re never well served by ignoring what exists now.
There are times when leadership feels like a problem to be solved and other times when it feels like a reality to be experienced.
Here are some sobering realities you’re likely to face at some point in your leadership:
You don’t always get the credit you deserve (or think you deserve). if you think leadership is about gaining recognition and glory for what you accomplish, think again. It’s far more often about giving credit to others and acknowledging their contributions. You may feel you deserve more, but that’s not how it works—and the faster you can face that reality, the less disappointed you will feel. It’s the leader who can lead just as passionately toward a noble cause or a compelling vision while getting little credit (but more than their share of criticism) who’s on track for success.
Leadership can be really lonely. To be a leader comes with great responsibility. Many people look up to you to always know the answers and provide direction. But who can you turn to when you need inspiration or motivation? The reality is that leadership is often a lonely and isolated experience. The antidote is to create for yourself a inner core group that supports you and is there for you.
The pressure is continuous, and it’s exhausting. A leader has to be on top of their game 24/7. You can hardly let your guard down, because people are counting on you and there is always a lot to get done. Sometimes the sheer pressure of leadership can be utterly exhausting. If you don’t want to burn out, learn to find a balance between your leadership and your private life— and be sure to make the things that are important to you a priority.
Your mindset affects not only you but also those around you. Keeping a positive outlook is not an option but a necessity. As a leader, you must keep a mindset that’s optimistic and positive, because people are relying on you. If your attitude is off, it will affect everyone around you. Do everything you can to maintain a positive outlook, because negativity causes unnecessary disruption and turmoil among those you lead.
Authenticity is strength. If you’re reluctant to embrace authenticity, you may have subscribed to the idea that it’s a point of vulnerability and therefore not a smart move. It’s certainly true that your authenticity will make you vulnerable, but here’s the surprising truth: that vulnerability can be the best thing you have going for your leadership. It helps you stand out of the crowd and shine as who you really are—not who others want you to be. Even in an environment where authenticity isn’t valued, the best leaders know that being real is a strength.
Sobering realities are a part of everyone’s learning, in leadership as in any other field. And at some point in the tenure of your leadership, you realize that it’s not the hard realities but what you do about them that truly matters.
Lead from within: Never try to escape your realities. Take them on and make them everything you want them to be. Because a bad leader can destroy good people.
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