Be Careful What You Wish For
I recall in my time in leadership watching many work and struggle to qualify to move into a leadership role. Many made fine leaders and many didn't. I always shared with folks to "be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it!" I admit it is a bit tongue in cheek but there is that kernel of truth about it. It gave good leader candidates pause for thought and it would fly right by the rest.
What Is Leadership To You?
All of us climbing the corporate ladder or seeking to move up the line get ideas in our head about what leadership is going to look like and what we will accomplish with it. For many they aspire for position and the perks that come with it. Others are looking for that pay increase, bigger holiday and bonus package and still others "just know" that the company would do so much better if they had a place at the table of decision making.
If you are reading this and laughing then you have already been there and know full well that those things do not make for satisfying leadership. Strangely people don't line up to provide immediate support to your ideas and goals. An endless stream of problems and issues come through your door and more often than not regardless of how many problems you solve very little in the form of appreciation trickles back to you. You ask yourself if any amount of money or bonus could justify the headaches and holidays are often interspersed with interruptions. Yes, leadership can often be the most frustrating and yet most rewarding thing you will do. The question is how to minimize the frustration and maximize the reward. To solve this challenge you need to understand what is meant by reward.
How Do You Define Reward?
If your definition of reward is found in the second paragraph then you are in for a long haul. Don't get me wrong, many succeed in pursuit of those ambitions but wind up being at the top and very unsatisfied. Even more so if they have had to back stab and claw their way their because for those people it is a very lonely place and they constantly need to be looking over their shoulder. Making sure you stay in front of that hungry pack below you will eat away all of your time and energy.
If however, you define reward as that sense of well being you get by helping others on your team succeed then your path will be an immensely more satisfying one. It is not that there won't be the same sorts of challenges but those challenges are tackled for entirely different reasons; the good of the company and the good of the team. As counter-intuitive as it sounds I used to tell folks that my job was to work my way out of a job as soon as possible. The point being that I wanted to elevate them and grow their skills so that I wasn't needed anymore. That may seem like a CLM (Career Limiting Move) but strangely enough it never was and still isn't.
People want to know that their leaders are looking out for them and care about them both as a part of the group and as a person. Great leaders understand that the team is not a means to personal advancement but rather the engine that drives success for the company. Nothing is more rewarding than seeing the people you nurtured and trained moving up in influence and leadership.
Will You Leave A Lasting Legacy?
Life is short, in fact too short to be spent chasing after rewards that will not outlive your departure from a company. I know of one leader who is constantly amazed by the number of people who come back to her months and years after she has left a company to tell her how much they appreciated her efforts and concern and yes, leadership. Can you say the same? Are you living your dream as a leader or just hanging on for dear life? Performance Leadership, Think About It!