The Burden of Leadership


Many want the benefits of leadership – the esteem, the fame , the salary –  without carrying the burden of leadership.  Great leaders carry great burdens.  Their failures are public, their work criticized by many and the why behind decisions they make may not be seen for years to come.  I’ve come to realize that true leaders will rarely criticize other leaders – even if they don’t agree with a decision made by another leader. This is because they know the burden the other leader carries.

What are the burdens leader carry?

  • Cogitation -great leaders are great thinkers.  They have the wisdom to know when to pull away and think about a situation.  They know when they need to go study before making a decision.  They are in a constant state of lesson learning – from their wins and failures. The result of their deep thinking ability they act instead of reacting in situations.  Great leaders  This is a burden because unskilled leaders will react and get patted on the back for being quick to do something – but that something can equal a wrong thing!   Slow yourself down enough and be a student.  There is nothing worse than climbing fast up the corporate ladder to only fall faster. There is nothing more rewarding then earning a promotion knowing you have the ability to succeed.
  • Vulnerability – The price to pay for being understood is suffering a season of being misunderstood. There are times we have to make decisions that will not be clearly understood by all.  When you pull away to plan, study or think this can be seen as an inability to react quickly.  You have to be OK with all of this.
  • Teaching – Leading is executing work through other people. The temptation to do it yourself is always present.  But allowing others to do the work – even make mistakes you see coming is a burden you must carry.  Teaching others what you know isn’t just telling them what you know – but allowing them to experience (on a smaller scale) your mistakes so you can coach them through it.  You may have to take a bullet of criticism for this, but the long term benefits of them learning the lesson is worth it.
  • Relationship – building relationships will cost you as a leader.  Some misguided ‘leaders’ think because the person reports to them there is an automatic relationship. I only see this deception in Corporate America.  People who report to you can do as you ask because you are their manager – NOT because you have built a connection.  If you truly want to influence, you have to build a relationship with each person on your team.  This will take time and effort.

There is a price to pay for being a great leader. Too few are willing to pay the price because of the time it takes.

1 thought on “The Burden of Leadership”

  1. What? No comments? You must be kidding, this is brilliant and extremely helpful.

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