This Is What Really Happens When You Lead

Leadership is a topic people love to debate and discuss, and as an executive leadership coach I’m constantly engaged in conversations and answering questions about leadership.

One of the most common misconceptions is that leadership means prestige and power. But the reality is a lot more gritty, and a lot more interesting. Here are some fundamental truths about leadership:

If it was all about you before, now it’s all about them. Every successful leader depends on a community working toward a common goal. Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress; working together is where success follows.

If you liked doing all the talking before, now you have to do all the listening. As a leader, speaking your mind is less important than listening to what others are saying. People in the room need to be heard and understood and recognized as an essential part of the organization.

If you were afraid of failure before, now you treat is as a natural occurrence. The best leaders don’t view their failures as weaknesses but as lessons on how to do better next time. They model a positive view of failure so their team stays bold and willing to try risky things.

If you were busy before, now you’re really swamped. There’s always something to do or say or think about. It can be hard to even find a moment for reflection. But if you want to succeed as a leader, learn how to carve out some time for yourself to avoid burning out.

If you thought you knew what pressure was before, now you know how forceful it can be. The best leaders cultivate the ability to stay calm and unhurried when pressure builds so their judgment doesn’t suffer. As the old saying goes, you can measure a leader’s character by the choices they make under pressure.

If you hated risk before, now it’s second nature. In a world where the pace of change grows faster every day, the biggest risk for leaders is not being bold enough to take any risks—the only strategy that’s guaranteed to fail.

If you disliked meetings before, now your life may become one long meeting. Remember that fewer meetings means more doing, and try to replace as many meetings as you can with other forms of communication. In truth, people who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything.

 If you liked keeping to yourself before, now you have to be visible and accessible everywhere to everyone. As a coach, I have seen countless introverts struggle with this truth. But whether being around others wears you out or is energizes you, you have to be out there with your team where they can see you and learn from you. People must be able to see you and connect with you for them to be successful.

If you thought it was all about the strategy before, now you realize it’s really all about the relationships. Great leaders know that strategy is important, but what’s more important is the people who execute the strategy and the relationships that build strong teams.

If you thought competency was important before, now you realize character carries more weight. Competencies are important, but they can only take you so far. Help people develop their character into one that will uphold the highest standards for hard work and integrity.

Leadership may be hard to define and good leadership even harder, but if you can get people to follow you to the ends of the earth, rest assured—you are a great leader.

Lead from within: Before you become a leader success is all about growing yourself; after, it’s all about growing others.


N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR,, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

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