Leadership author and speaker, Craig Groeschel has said, “If you’re not hurting, you’re probably not leading”. One thing I believe that a lot of people who are not in the leadership position of their group may tend to think that the person in charge has it made. “After all, they’re not the one down here doing what I’m doing” the thought could go. That may be true of that thing specifically but that’s also why they hired you.
What those not leading don’t always understand is that there is probably far more pain of a different sort in the ranks of leadership. While the employee-minded person may feel the pain of lower pay, an uncomfortable chair, fielding customer complaints, and “no one” wanting to listen to their great ideas, the pain of leadership is of a different sort altogether. For the Authentic Leader at least, their pain is less about the aches of the body and more about the aches of the heart. Let’s look at a few aspects of this leadership pain that ALL heart-leaders will experience.
Before we get started, leadership author, Samuel Chand, wrote a more detailed book on this topic entitled Leadership Pain and you can get a physical or audio copy by >>>Clicking Here<<<. By purchasing this valuable book, a small percentage will support the Next Level Living blog as well as add value to your own leadership life.
Dealing With Yourself And Your Own Flaws
As difficult as it can be, this is the place we must look most constantly for the answer to our leadership pain. While it is true that people will forsake you for their own misguided reasons, the question we must be able to answer is “Is there something about me that needs to change?” Again, this can be difficult because the answer is often “Yes”, then the question becomes “What about me needs to change and how do we change it?”. This is one of the common weaknesses of leaders.
Now, before getting too deep into self-introspection, this is not to say that we are always the cause for all of our leadership pain. (Be careful of extremes). Sometimes, the cold truth is that some people simply will not want what you and I have to offer. I’m simply bringing out that we must be honest enough to at least ask the hard questions about ourselves and be willing to hear and acknowledge the hard answers as they are shown to us.
The Pain of Expectations
Anyone who has ever tried to lead anything has felt this pain. The whole point of leading is because you have some expectation that what you are leading is going to go somewhere and accomplish something. You start off with all the zeal and expectation only to realize at some point things aren’t working out “as they should” or “as I thought they would”. Can I get an “amen” on this?
The reality is that these things must happen to all who will lead from their heart, and if they are capitalized on, they can work for your benefit. As Chief Operations Officer for AAFES, Jason Rosenberg says, “Things must happen to you in order for you to become a stronger leader.” While it’s quite natural to let the pain become a negative, how can we capitalize on that pain? I’m not saying there is any one particular answer to this, but it’s a question worth asking.
Keep in mind the personal development side of this teaching. When you learn how to deal with leadership pain, it’ll make you able to grow into the kind of person who can handle more and more levels of leadership pain because you understand it is normal and that it happens to all who will lead from their heart.
The Pain of Rejection
This is another pain that Authentic Leaders will experience…the pain of rejection. This rejection can range from the rejection of your ideas, the rejection of your feelings, the rejection of your leadership style, or even if your leadership style is strong, the rejection of you as a person, etc. By the way, if you carry what I’ll call a “presence of expectation”, meaning you expect people to do their part and to do what’s right more than you expect their validation and approval of you, then be ready for the pain of rejection. Even if you don’t say “I expect you to do your part and to do what’s right because of your age, position, title, etc.”, the way you operate (your presence) will say that for you and it will repel most people.
It is easy to take this kind of pain personally. Again, if we can ask the question “Is there something about me that needs to change?” then there may be some factor that, as we look back, we can say “Yes, that could have been done better” and we improve it for next time.
I will insert here that ultimately each person has to make up their own minds as to whom they will follow. People have their own opinions, hang-ups, fears, insecurities, etc. that may be a cause for their rejection. So, we must not take these things so personally if indeed we can say “I did the best I could with what I knew and understood at the time. They just made their decision.”
The Pain of Failed Attempts
At this point I’ll say that, if you’re not attempting new things, you’re probably not leading. You may be managing what’s already there, but you’re not leading. To lead indicates to move forward into new territory or a new way of doing things. For instance, my blog, podcast, and this class are new to me and our church and I’ve yet to see where it can go and all the ways it can add to what I’m already doing. It’s my way of trying to lift my own roof and break certain molds in my own life.
What if no one watches or reads? I will have broken out of certain molds of fear and still have a higher roof on my personal development than I did before because I tried something new and different even when I didn’t know how it would all work out.
So, it doesn’t have to always be something big and Earth-shattering, but just some new venture to see where it can go and if it can be used to expand upon and be a complement to what you already have.
I’d imagine we’d still be in the Stone Ages if it weren’t for those few brave souls along the way who risked failure in order to do something that wasn’t currently being done, and then sticking with it long enough to see the fruit of it.
While failed attempts can certainly be painful, it is this pain that will make you stronger for next time as well as the experience you gain from the attempt. One more thing, the attempt itself gives you a stronger resolve to try something else…and then something else…and then something else until eventually you DO find something that can become life-changing!
Embracing Leadership Pain
When it comes down to it, anyone who will dare to lead, especially from a place of authenticity and transparency, is going to face leadership pain! It’s this facing of it that makes them the leader they are; both in the fact that they face it and the kind of leader it makes them to become.
So, with this in mind, there are times I believe you should just do the thing that others aren’t willing to do. You must do this as they say “Come Hell or high water” (and by the way, both will come with a vengeance). It is only by doing this that you’ll get to do and have the things that others never get to do or have!
Three Effects of Successfully Enduring Leadership Pain
A more grounded sense of personal security. While others are still groveling in their insecurity, you’ll have a more uprightness and grounded-ness about you because you’ve grown personally and therefore professionally as well.
More confidence. Not arrogance or cockiness. While others are afraid to speak to issues that that really need to be dealt with, you’re able to meet the issues with kindness, fairness, and firmness because you don’t fear the loss of approval…if it’s wrong, it’s wrong.
More personal security. You’re not bullied into submission when you stand up for your convictions.