What Are Some Harsh Truths About Being a Leader

Many people think of leadership as a glorified profession, one with impressive titles and lots of prestige and benefits. That may or may not be the case, but every level of leadership involves some hard truths. If you’re already in leadership, you likely know these all too well already, but if you’re aspiring to a leadership role, or if you work with a leader, keep them in mind:

Leadership means sacrifice. Leadership at its core is about sacrifice of self-interest. True leadership is other-focused—it’s about investing in other people to help them succeed, even at the expense of your own interests. You have to put your personal priorities away and work for the good of your people.

Leadership means constantly being judged. People are especially judgmental of their boss. Every decision you make—from promotions to project assignments to office decor—is subject to scrutiny. You have to learn not to take it personally, and that’s not always easy.

Leadership means having to be strong for others. People come to their leader with all kinds of challenges and burdens, and it’s part of your charge to always be strong and looking out for them. Making sure that people feel supported and provided for takes an enormous amount of perseverance.

Leadership means carrying the load. You may not have a sign on your desk that says “The Buck Stops Here,” but if you’re in leadership, it does stop with you. You’re in charge so you have to take responsibility, even when the burden is difficult.

Leadership means making people unhappy. There will always be people who don’t support your ideas and initiatives, and some of those people may actively oppose you or be upset with your choices. You truly cannot make everyone happy or have everyone like you. The best you can do is to be honest and consistent in yourself.

Leadership means failing visibly. Everyone makes mistakes and everyone has failures. But when a leader fails, they fail in full view of the entire team. Bad judgment calls and missteps, large or small, are right there. Everyone knows about them; there’s nowhere to hide and no excuses that will help.

Leadership means being mindful of your influence. As a leader you need to pay attention to everything that comes out of your mouth. Your words matter, whether you’re addressing a large group, in a small meeting, or telling a joke in the hall. People will be paying attention to what you say and how you say it.

Leadership means liking your people, even the difficult ones. As a leader, your first priority is the people who work for you, even the most difficult, the most challenging, the most unpersonable. It’s a priority that can be tough to maintain.

Being a leader is not for the weak. You’re constantly scrutinized, judged and held to a higher standard than most people. Great leaders always find a way to make it work—and that’s what makes them great leaders.

Lead from within: There’s no manual for leadership, no five-step process that will give you the answers. You have to sort out how to be a great leader by doing it and being it.


#1 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, Inc.com, 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.

  1. Patrick Haley

    30. Sep, 2020

    This is one of the finest summaries of leadership I’ve ever read. There is a price tag for leadership as Lincoln once said, “If my situation is anything like being the head of hell, then I could almost have sympathy for the devil.” Thank you for this timeless piece of wisdom–it has been added to my “Lessons on Leadership” file.

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