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Hard Truths About Leadership and Why You Need to do it Anyway

Posted by: on June 25, 2018 in employee relations


leadership is hardThe current climate of distrust of people in power - politicians, media, celebrities - has taken its toll on business leaders as well. Whether or not business leaders actively participate in politics or current events is not the issue, however. Institutional trust is declining as a whole, and business leaders need to work harder than ever to gain and keep the trust of their employees and clients.

Leadership is Hard to Begin With

No one ever said that being a leader is easy. Some great leaders may make it look easy, but leadership is a skill that needs to be developed over time. Great leaders learn through experiences, education and mistakes. Learning what doesn’t work and why is just as important as learning what does work

Why is leadership so hard?

  • You get in your own way. Sometimes leaders can get hyper-focused on an end goal, and can forget about the interests of their team in the long-term. Holding people to unrealistic standards and caring more for results than people can be detrimental to a leader’s reputation. Great leaders need to be able to take a step back and look at a much bigger picture to lead their team into greatness.
  • Not everyone likes your feedback. When you’re leading a diverse group of people, you have a multitude of personalities, quirks, preferences and egos to work around. On any given day, it is difficult to predict which of those people are going to respond to your feedback receptively and which of them will reject it. There’s no use in stewing over someone not wanting to hear what you have to say. All you can do is offer reasonable and necessary feedback and stand behind it confidently.
  • Leadership is demanding. Success in leadership is often measured by results. No matter how well you do in one quarter, you’re expected to do more and do better the next quarter. Achieving success in only this way is nearly impossible and extremely draining. Finding alternative ways to measure success in addition to results can help ease some of this pressure.
  • There’s no handbook on how to lead your specific team. Leadership books, courses and conferences can help you develop your skills as a leader, but it’s up to you to take that knowledge and apply it to your own team in a way that best fits.

Great Leaders Attract More Great Leaders

Great leaders don’t just have a bunch of loyal followers, but rather they attract and develop more great leaders. Traditional top-down leadership can hold your team back, slow down decision-making, and stifle talented employees from developing their leadership skills. You should be creating a “culture of leadership” in which all employees are empowered to some extent to make certain decisions.

Tips on Being a Better Leader:

  • Lead by example. Great leaders don’t just tell their employees what to do, they show them. Through the way the dress, the way they communicate and the way they treat other people, leaders exhibit the same qualities that they will see in return.
  • Admit to your mistakes. To err is to human, and even the best leaders make mistakes. The difference is in how you handle those mistakes. Owning up to your mistakes builds trust from your employees and encourages them to have the same accountability for themselves as well.
  • Get personal with your employees. It's important to get personal - just not too personal. Let your employees know a little about your life outside of work, and learn some things about them as well. Connecting with people on a human level is an important part of creating a team that works together effectively.
  • Never stop learning and improving. Being put into a leadership position does not mean you know everything there is to know about the job. Always be open to learning experiences and gaining new skills to help you become a better leader tomorrow than you were yesterday.
The influence of a great leader can impact the entire career trajectories of other employees, helping them become more confident, successful and loyal to the company. When done correctly, leadership brings out the best in others, allowing them to flourish, and in the process, they can become inspired to lead as well. Persevering through the difficulties of leadership makes the satisfaction of these positive effects all the more gratifying.

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