The Perils of Leadership – Frank Ofili28 views
A true leader is the one who consciously and willingly makes a decision to seek a position in which to champion the cause of others. He does not seek leadership for personal aggrandizement, earn more money, have more power or prestige, or to get known. These are precisely the reasons most people go into that which they do, but not the true leader!
He seeks leadership because he wants to solve some specific problems the people face; he seeks leadership in order to provide for the people an atmosphere in which they can live a better life, individually and collectively realize their full potential, and be free to determine their individual and collective destiny. True leaders seek equity, fairness, justice and equal opportunity for the people.
In the pursuit of his mission, a true leader is, among other things, often betrayed, disappointed and blackmailed by black-ships and turn-coats who, for lucre, sold out to those who are bent on putting obstacles on his way. But he remains steadfast and neither gives up nor becomes vindictive against those who betray him. It is the perils of leadership; he expects it, prepares himself for it and stays the course. He does not give excuses or engage in the blame game. The hallmark of good leadership is being fearless and resolute in the face of seemingly insurmountable huddles believing that triumph would come at last to usher in both for himself and his people, the reward that comes with a long and arduous journey.
It follows then that the day you decide to lead others, you should accept without question the following leadership perils as being intrinsic to your mission:
1. Prepare to be Hated: Wise leaders accept that some decisions will be unpopular. If you cannot handle other people’s disapproval, then leadership probably is not for you. Trying to be everyone’s friend is a futile effort. Most of us want to be liked; we do things to get others to accept us (with varying levels of success); we do things to gain the approval of others, allowing true accountability to wither. Some of us want so desperately to be accepted that we will sacrifice the good of the rest for our own selfish emotional gain. While it might help in the short-term, the pursuit of approval is a guarantee of long-term failure. Those who do not throw their leadership opportunities away in pursuit of approval will be teased at best; at worst, they will be ridiculed, mocked, and defamed. So, prepare to be hated, but remember that the haters are the ones who do not matter. The ones who do matter will sincerely appreciate your leadership and implicitly trust your guidance, since you have proven your constancy and trustworthiness.
2. Conquer Your Fears: In life, especially in leadership positions, we all face fears. We fear not being accepted, feelings of inadequacy, shame, rejection, discomfort etc. You must choose to get over your fears and not allow them to hinder your growth and development as a leader. You have something to offer, and you must choose to focus on what you do have to offer, not what you do not. Remember the dirty little secret is that those who are acting like they have it all together really do not. Such people are insecure.
3. Betrayals are part of the Course: One thing that fuels fears about the future is past betrayals, and betrayal is one of the ultimate tests of leadership. Be willing to walk in forgiveness with those who betray or seem to have betrayed you. Do not let betrayals wall you off from future successes and close relationships with others. Do not allow fear of betrayal alienate you from building strategic relationships with others. Not that I am recommending that you allow obviously dysfunctional people close to you, but you should not use past betrayals as an excuse to bottle yourself up. I admit that forgiving betrayal is difficult, but you must choose to let those circumstances go, since forgiveness only hurts you, not the other person. I would rather choose to remain vulnerable and be taken advantage of than be so skeptical of others that I have no intimate relationship with. Often times that person who seems distantly suspect is often your unexpected friend.
4. Get Comfortable with Discomfort: Leaders also must learn to be comfortable with discomfort; it is part of the job description. Anyone who seeks to be comfortable in leadership does not understand his role as a leader. You will often feel like resigning your position and abandoning your cause, but that would be a terrible mistake. I do a job in which I find several people under me. Several times I faced so much frustration that I felt like resigning from the company. As painful and emotional as I knew it would be, I chose not to and am glad I did. Do not quit on account of being uncomfortable with the challenges of leadership. If you have to quit, quit when the ovation is highest; when everyone wants you to stay on.
5. Do not shirk your responsibilities: As a leader, you do not have the luxury of shirking painful responsibilities even though you would like to. Leadership is not necessarily safe. It can be perilous to anyone in that position; it involves much more risk than just being a team or group member. Your actions as a leader are held to a much higher standard, and criticism of your leadership decisions is much more out in the open for everyone to see. Simply being a team member allows more anonymity for the quality of work and decisions made. If things do not work out the leader usually does not have the luxury to move to another position within the same organization or group or team. But this should not be an excuse for you to abandon your responsibilities. Stay on course.
The Bottom Line is if the perils of leadership are hatred, discomfort, vulnerability, fear, and betrayal, why should anyone lead? Indeed, why should anyone seek to champion the cause of others? The answer is because it is our individual and collective responsibility. If we let the perils of leadership to deter us from this responsibility, then we would have failed our generation. We must not allow it. Nigeria desperately needs leaders who are not afraid of the discomfort that is required of leadership. Nigeria needs leaders who will put the needs of Nigerians first, not their own selfish interests.
*This article was first published in Skytrends News of April 17, 2014. (Google image)