Everyone wants to lead and everyone has an opinion (valid or not) about the leader that they see, everyone concurs that they, are better, smarter and more able than their leaders (especially when it comes to the political or community space), whereas the fact remains that, none of this is really true, authentic or accurate- for the Leaders alone knows what holding on to that leadership position has cost them- the untold saga of sacrifices, decisions going wrong and being coerced to choose between the evil and the lesser evil! Join me here as we try to decipher what plays on the mind of the leader as they sieve through multiple decisions that they must take, to continue leading what they lead and ensuring that all the stakeholders are safe, secure and the greater good is served over everything else at all times!
To begin with, one needs to understand that Leadership and Leaders are quite different from Mangers and the Bosses that you come across every now and then, Good Leader by default make great managers or bosses- that is what leading is all about, however the converse is not true! To that effect we must know what leadership and leading is all about! Sure enough there are volumes and volumes written by experts who have worked in the area of leadership and leading teams, but if you were to condense all of that and try to decipher what is the essence of leadership- it will eventually come down to a few things, like Leaders are courageous, vulnerable, rooted yet able to soar high and apart from many other things they are, they connect heart to heart and lead from the heart, creating more leaders then followers! Certainly Leadership experts, will add more aspects to what goes on to define what leading is and what leadership is, but since this is a blog, having the limitations, I will not dive further into this space, but now move ahead into what we are here to discuss- the cost of leadership!
Ask any Leader, that you come across and you will at an instant notice, leadership or leading people, is nothing like the way it is marketed or the way fables are written around it to motivate and inspire people! Leaders & their Leadership comes often with an intense and intimate cost; which rarely leaders will admit in the open- whether the costs of their leadership is the price paid by their family, their health or simply the acrimonious contextual settings that they operate in (based on the society that are in); every and all leadership comes at a cost! These costs at times outweigh the brief of the what is been lead and at times, the greatness of that position, makes any cost look too trivial and leaders keep pushing ahead to serve and lead upon what they have embarked! Let me explain!
Consider this, let’s say you are a leader (not a manager) and are given the task to lead a faltering organisation and get it back on it’s feet, given the fact, you are a leader, you will get it done, you may take a few months, a few years, perhaps a decade- based on what the organisation is, how complex the challenge is, but you will persevere, stay put and deliver- that’s what leadership is all about, isn’t it! Now, add a little twist to this, say while getting this assignment, if you were told that, you know what, by the time you finish getting this done and dusted, you will have probably increased blood sugars, an enhanced blood pressure and added waist line and you can meet your family only once a year- now- – what do you think will happen? What would have you done? This is the point where every leader evaluates- and rightly so- this is that moment which every leader undergoes before saying “Yes” to any assignment that comes their way- this evaluation of what is at stake- what is the cost to be paid and who will it involve is what plays on the Leader’s mind and sure enough, once this is settled the Leader’s are quick to start with the business and hit the ground. Now if you want to raise the stakes higher, how about if you are given the chance and choice to lead you nation? Feel the shivers? Based on where you are on the planet and whether you are dealing with millions in a multicultural society with sharp ideologies or in a bipolar society which just thinks the society and the world is either black or white!, You have a touch assignment and then start adding up layers of diplomacy, political prudence, media glare, intragroup rivalry, opposition pressures, international alignments and yes that ever looming threat being the person on the chair! You still want to lead? You see, it is very easy to give opinions and say things about people in power or in general about leaders- but if you only knew the cost that have paid to be where they- you will have a rethink before you race to say anything to them either appreciating or criticizing them! You may want to say, but that’s what they have signed up for!
Sure enough, Leaders do sign up for challenges around the work and for leading people and holding them together as they achieve goals that they have been entrusted with; but Leaders never sign up for the price that they at times end up paying which can far outweigh anything & everything that they would have signed up for! Like the earlier example, if you were to take up an assignment knowing your health will be irreversibly damaged- well then your move actually puts a whole big question mark on your leadership competence- Simply because Leadership is not Suicidal! If you were to say yes and go ahead with that corporate offer to lead compromising and damaging your own health, rest assured you will end up rubbing the same down through the team and the consequence would be higher medical bills for the organization to settle, increased health related absenteeism and in that rare event death on the job!
Leadership is raw, painful, thankless, invisible yet omnipresent, rewarding and fulfilling- the real leader knows the way to find the right essence between being an eccentric genius and a soft spoken suave presence. Often than not the real cost of leadership is never seen in the open and except for that small inner circle of the leader, hardly ever will everyone know the multiple battles and jugglery that the leader undertakes just to ensure that the team still has their job in the month ahead and your salary cheque will reach you as it should! Often the biggest misconception is that the “Corner Office” people have nothing to do, just go on for endless lunch meetings and evening catch up’s on the way back home!
What people miss out is that, it’s these very lunch meetings that usher in the promise of a sustained lunch for all the people that the Leader leads and the meetings on the way back, suddenly extend robbing them away of their family time, more than anyone else! Given the construct of the culture that we have and the working associations and equations, Leaders will rarely open up to tell you how they felt nervous before the client said or whispered that “yes” over lunch, neither will they tell you what kind of ruckus that they had to face, simply because they could not attend their kids school function…the list is endless and this selfless sacrifices, measured and done on a daily basis, is what Leaders face!
Whether you lead as a doctor, a cop, a defence warrior, a corporate head honcho, or you are that next big start up success story- you could be any of these or you could be as simply as leading yourself and you will see even the effort to lead yourself too comes at a cost and the cost that you pay to lead yourself is the time you waste/invest in creating greater value for yourself to become a better version what will be relevant in the approaching tomorrow! Every Leader starts by Leading themselves first! It really doesn’t matter what you have signed up for, unless you are game on and you are able to spread that contagious warmth and exuberance among your team mates, the whole journey will end even before it starts!
The simple and singular fat is leadership and leaders pay the price or rather should I say the cost for the leadership that take responsibility for, at times the decision is far more important than their personal comfort and there is a greater social cause and hence must be held on to and at other times, leaders begin to soak in more and more into their work, not because they are workaholic maniacs, but simply because they can’t allow the team to fail, for the team’s failure is their own failure! Every leader weighs and evaluates the cost, even before they start and for some reason if they miss out on this bit, we get to see what is a full blown leadership crisis in the workplace and you can see leaders come and go- simply because there is not contextual setting and clarity on what is to be achieved and at what cost! If you ask me, another term for Leadership is Clarity of Purpose- when you have that, you are able to lead, yourself first and as that conviction led warmth spreads, other join you sooner than you think and you are well on your way to create new milestones in the task that you have chosen ahead!
To wrap it up, the next time, you come across a leader (not a manager) just know this, that the person has sacrificed something, you may know that or may never know that, but that is a given! Leadership is never about Lights, Camera, Action, It’s all about sweat, grit, determination, failures and bounce backs from one moment unto the next until the objective is achieved!
I leave you here, with these thoughts for no, do reflect, think about all the leaders you ever came across and what do you think their leadership cost them, and if you happen to be a leader (not a manager), what is the cost that you have paid and is it worth it?
Ciao for now, will be back soon! By the way, do get in touch with us for appointments pertaining to Leadership Coaching that we have now commenced! For more details drop in a mail or visit us at http://www.simplifylives.com