Leadership is hard, demanding work. It’s also one of the most rewarding ways to spend your career. It would be nice if leading well was as easy as it is rewarding. It’s not.
It would be nice if leadership was easy.
If leadership was easy, more teams would be more effective. More people would enjoy their work and be happier. But leadership is hard, consuming work. One reason we have so many awful leaders is that the work looks easy. It’s not.
It would be nice if leadership was simple, straightforward work.
Leadership work is anything but straightforward. If you are a leader, you must accomplish the team’s mission through the group. You must also care for the people in your charge and help them succeed. You must be concerned about the results of your work both today and in the future. And you must avoid being sucked into the vortex of problems you cannot solve.
It would be nice if you could be effective your first day on a leadership job.
When you observe leadership work in action, it looks easy. Many new leaders fall into the trap of believing there’s not much to learn when they get on the job. The truth is that it takes most leaders who make a successful transition from being an individual contributor more than a year to get the basics of leadership work right. Then, if you aspire to excellence, you can count on another decade of development.
It would be nice if you could learn leadership from books and videos.
If you could learn everything about leadership from books and videos, life would be easy. All you would need to do is study up, then show up and do good work. Alas, that’s not how it is. The only way to learn leadership is by doing leadership. That means being uncomfortable and unsure a lot of the time. It means making mistakes every day, even after you’ve achieved excellence.
It would be nice if you could learn everything about leadership and not worry about it anymore.
You’re never done learning leadership. From your first leadership role to the end of your working life, there will be new things to learn and new challenges to meet.
It would be nice if anyone could lead well.
Some people think anyone can lead well. I beg to differ. If you aspire to leadership, you must bring some basics to the table. You must be smart enough. You must be willing to confront people about poor performance or behavior. You must be willing to make decisions. We can teach you how to do those things better, but we can’t teach you to be willing to do them. That’s up to you.
Then, you must be willing to be uncomfortable and always learning. You must be willing to stand back and let team members do their work. You must be willing to avoid the temptation to always be the person with the right answer.
If you love leadership work and do it well, leadership is a rewarding way to spend your life.
Leadership work offers you the opportunity for achievement and deep relationships. It’s hard work. Sometimes it’s lonely work. But it’s a truly marvelous way to spend the days of your life.
Leadership work is not easy.
Leadership work is not simple
Leadership work is hard to master.
You must learn leadership work by doing. That means mistakes and discomfort.
You must bring some things to the table if you want to lead well.
If you love the work and do it well, leadership work is a marvelous way to spend the days of your life.
By Wally Block