“Anyone could be a leader if there was no cost. True leaders willingly pay a price, to sacrifice self interest, to have the honor to lead.” —Simon Sinek, author and inspirational speaker
People aren’t always prepared for the cost that comes hand in hand with a leadership role. They believe leadership is all about power, status, and money, without considering the fact that all the perks come with a price tag attached. In the first part of this series, I discussed a few aspects of this cost, including:
- People expect you to remember
- Things get quiet when you arrive
- Some of your statements will be misunderstood
But, that’s only the beginning of the changes you can expect when you move out of the role of team member and begin taking on the responsibility of leadership.
Here Comes the Free Advice
There’s a Kenyan proverb that goes, “A leader who does not take advice is not a leader.” It’s absolutely true that a leader without access to a trusted advisory group will flounder. Leaders need to be willing to learn and be open to input.
However, when you become a leader, you’ll find the suggestions begin to flow free and fast. Everyone has an opinion, which can quickly become overwhelming and even irritating. After all, not everyone offering advice bears the same responsibility for results that you do, and they don’t always possess the same fundamental knowledge of a situation.
You might be tempted to tune out and dismiss the abundance of advice, but a wise leader knows to listen, smile, and say thank you. Doing so allows you to build all-important relationships with your team members, and also keeps you open to any potential kernels of truth that might exist within the advice.
Leaders need to possess excellent filters, which allow them to sift through the mounds of suggestions they receive and find the helpful nuggets buried within. Perhaps there’s something your organization could be doing better. Maybe you overlooked a potential issue. It could be that your team members could use additional training or support.
Put that kernel to work, acknowledging the efforts of the advice-giver as you do.
There Is Always a Score
In our book, Would You Work for You? The Quest: Discovering the Leader Within, we wrote that, “People, however well-intentioned they may be, keep score. There is no easy way to make everyone happy.”
You might want to believe that everyone behaves altruistically all the time, but the truth is that your team members keep track. They have their own goals and interests. The ticker is always running and there’s no way for you, as a leader, to prevent people from calculating the items on their mental tallies.
However, if you focus each day on building trust, cultivating culture, and demonstrating consistency, those actions serve as deposits allowing you to tilt those tallies in your favor.
Remember and celebrate your team members’ birthdays, keep track of their children’s names, and don’t forget the things that matter to them. They’ll never stop looking out for the one moment when you forget. You might do something right 99 times, but the one time you get it wrong, people will notice, and they’ll add it to the score.
There Is Always an Ask
Along the same lines, you must be prepared for the fact that people will have specific goals for the interactions they have with you. There are always things they wish to gain. You might think you’re having a nice dinner, or enjoying a funny conversation in the break room, and then it happens.
They say, “Oh, just one more thing.”
And, it’s always a request.
As a leader, you need to square yourself with the fact that this will happen again and again. People will use their connection with you to get what they want. It’s perfectly normal to feel used and even indignant when it happens, but it’s part of the job. The only thing you can do is get over it and move on.
You Can’t Avoid Paying the Price
“Wisdom consists of the anticipation of consequences.” —Norman Cousins, political journalist, author, and professor
When people first learn that there’s a cost to leadership, they often begin calculating methods of avoiding it. Perhaps if they create this system, or implement this reward, they’ll be able to sidestep the frustration and the loneliness. It doesn’t work that way. You have to be willing to face the challenge and pay the price, because it won’t go away.
And, if you try to twist your way out of paying, your leadership will suffer. Your team will struggle and your organization will be unable to achieve its full potential. But, facing up to the price of leadership enables you to set your ego and hurt feelings aside, and thus better serve your team.
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Author, Speaker, and Change Agent.
Chris leads a dynamic team of passionate change agents who are dedicated to partnering with organizational executives to create cultures that inspire, engage and ignite the best in people. Our work is dedicated to harnessing the power of culture to equip leaders, build amazing teams and align operation practices to delighting the customer and drive breakthrough results.