We often view leadership as a quality that only a handful of people can obtain. It is what separates the shepherds from the sheep, The “X” factor if you will. Leaders have been known to be strong, resilient, charismatic, likeable, and intelligent. From our great historic leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., to the likes of our recent sports heroes that never seem to miss, score, or triumph when it counts the most, it is no secret that the trait that separates them from the rest is their great leadership. But what makes a great leader and are their stories always pretty? Are leaders born? or are they made? Do leaders have it easy? What should leaders expect in return? these are all questions I have recently come to ask myself in light of all the recent “leading” I’ve been asked to do.
Let me start by being tremendously blunt and maybe a little rash by saying that being a leader anywhere and anyhow is extremely annoying, hard, stressful and you are either thrown under the bus for being inadequate or taken for granted. Sometimes as a leader you can put in countless hours of work, sweat, and effort and never get the same in return. You can sacrifice your time and money but never feel as if you are being compensated. Being a leader can make you bitter. It can consume you and allow you to be so driven by your end goal that you forget why you started whatever it is that you started in the first place. It can leave you burnt out and worn and if you forget your purpose, leading can make you angry. As a leader you will struggle and you will fail multiple times before you catch a glimpse of success. So why should you want to be a leader? well the answer is quite simple. Because the change you inspire will always outweigh the rest.
There are times when we get down on ourselves when we’re in leadership roles for feeling inadequate, unprepared, or just in our own heads. Those are the times we need to look around and remind ourselves of all the good going on around us. We need to remember that the leaders who have come before us have similar stories and that all the struggling is a part of our own story. All the great leaders in the past found comfort in their community when they were overwhelmed. They knew that at the end of the day they could count on the people to the left and right of them. They would remind themselves of their purpose and keep pushing forward. Sometimes as leaders we forget about where it all started. we forget the simple things. We get so caught up in the ride that we forget to look out the window and enjoy the scenery. It’s in those times that we have to look around and actually SEE the change you and the people around you have begun to create.