Everyone loves the title of a leader. But not everyone knows the true story behind the leader.
Not to rain on your parade. Being a leader is great and all. But they only show you the glamorous side of it. You know the one with the trophies and millions of followers. But I think we need to show both sides of the coin so it doesn’t surprise us once we get that coveted title.
So, I’ve tasked myself with the chore of telling you the things that no one ever tells you about leadership. This is the untold story about the leadership role.
Your Unwritten Job as A Leader
The Sacrificial Lamb
Depending on how big of an organization you are leading, you could be the sacrificial lamb or the workhorse. All leaders are the figureheads of their organization. They represent the organization as a whole.
When you see Bill Gates, you think Microsoft. The organization is you and you are the organization in people’s minds. That can be a good and a bad thing.
It’s great if you are doing a great job. Because you become almost indispensable, especially if you are the founder. However, in times scandal and downfall. Guess who they want to get rid of?
Why do you think CEOs resign when a scandal occurs?
How else do they cleanse the image of the organization? They might get a new figurehead to give the organization a whole new image. And sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
The Work Horse
If you are in a small business in its beginning phase, you’re a workhorse. That means you are the CEO and the janitor. You are the writer, editor, and the publisher.
Yes, you are the last to be fired, but you may be the only one that you can afford. You put in overtime and you work hard. But hopefully, if you are the founder of your own enterprise, you are working doing something you love.
But just because you love what you do, doesn’t mean that it’s not hard. And there will be times where you feel like there’s too much work for one person.
In the beginning, you put in many hours. Heck, even as you grow, you may still be clocking in more hours than the regular full-time employee. But that’s why you earned the title of a leader. Because not everyone could handle what you do.
You’re the Barer of bad news
These aren’t the first things you may think about when looking to become a leader. But, hey! It comes with the title.
No one really likes being the bad guy. But sometimes the bad guy has to be you. You can lighten the load as much as possible. But in order to make the environment as efficient and friendly as possible for everyone involved, sometimes you have to be the bad guy.
That means that you’re the one issuing the verbal and written warnings. You have to be the one that tells your vice president that everyone thinks his jokes are uncomfortable. Or, that your employee, Kelly, has to stop taking her shoes off and putting her feet up on the desk.
You basically do all the odd jobs. As some people will say putting out fires until you can hire someone else to do it or delegate the job to someone else.
This can very sticky. You want the best for your organization. But at the same time, you don’t want to burn down bridges. How do you even fire people and leave on good terms? That’s something that you have to come to terms with.
Maybe, your first firing was a little awkward or just plain horrendous for both parties. But now you realize that there are ways you can ease the blow. For example, you realize that telling John why he’s being let go may soften the blow.
You cannot afford a social media manager anymore. But you would be happy to help him with his job search and give him a great reference letter. They may still hate you at the end of the day. But you did what you could.
As I pointed out earlier, you’re the one who might end up putting out all the office fires. That means when to two of your board members cannot stand each other, you might have to get in the middle of it. You’ve officially earned the role of a counselor.
You speak to both people separately to see if you can get an idea of how each side feels and what the problem is. Then, if you can solve the problem by being an intermediary, then you do it.
But not all problems are fixable. In that instance, you just need to make sure that both parties know that they need to be cordial. Agree to disagree and keep professional.
Sometimes being the fixer means that you may be helping with someone’s non-work-related struggle. Because sometimes non-work-related struggles can become work-related.
When your board member comes to you telling you that their mother is sick in the hospital or that they have cancer. You become the one who has to tell them that they need to take some time off and focus on their family or themselves.
After that, you need to figure out the new dynamic of your workplace without that worker.
There are so many things that you do not think about when you think about being the leader of your own company or organization.
The Rewarding Experience of Being The Leader
I’m not here to discourage people from leadership. I just think that people need a more honest view of what leadership can look like. There are plenty of rewards you get from leadership. And the experiences are more rewarding because you have gone through all those trials and tribulations.
The Opportunity to Meet Others and Form Relationships
As a leader, you get so many opportunities to meet new people and form great relationships. Your network becomes so much bigger.
And from all those relationships you form, you learn new things that can help you be a better leader. You also learn things that can just help you on a daily basis in everyday life.
You Get the Trophies
Yes, you still get the trophies and all the awards. Because after all that you’ve done, you deserve it. And it should mean so much more to you now.
You’ve put up with drama between your board members. You’ve disciplined and fired. You’ve been the writer, editor, and the publisher. And you learned how to delegate work. That certainly deserves a trophy, if not a couple.
To Sum Up
Leadership will not be all that you expect it to be. But it will be one of the most rewarding experiences. There will be really crazy and stressful days where you don’t want your title anymore. But there will also be days where you’re proud.
You know the day where you’ve led your team to the finish line. You all have released your first app and it gets over a million downloads. Or when you look over and see your employees bonding over coffee and brainstorming.
Leadership has its ups and its downs. Don’t go into it blindsided, but don’t be afraid either.
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