The 5 inner demons every leader must tame
Loneliness, lack of trust, need for approval are just some of the inner demons you will encounter on your way to success as a leader
Vince Lombardi said “ Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.”
If this is indeed true why are so most leadership development programs so unsuccessful in imparting these learnings? Alternately if leaders are born why do organisations spend millions every year in leadership development?
This is because there is a third element to the “made vs born” debate. People can be born with leadership qualities, which the development processes can fine tune OR people can be born sans leadership and acquire it along the way.
The key difference between whether you will or will not make a successful leader is strongly influenced by whether or not you are able to tame the inner demons that lurk inside every growing leader.
Loneliness: The higher you go the lonelier it gets. All leaders have followers but unfortunately the followers are just that; they look to you for direction and follow your lead. They cannot replace the role of friends and trusted confidants. Even if they want to, followers may not be able to help you clear your head or bounce off ideas. As you go higher you may never really have the luxury to be understood completely because you may never be able to voice your concerns, fears or apprehensions to your peers, bosses or subordinates. It is critical that you find people with whom you can safely share and clarify your thoughts. This is one reason why good coaches are in high demand.
Lack of trust: While you have people following your lead you may never be sure if they really believe in you. This is especially true of corporate setups, because people may just be your yes-(wo)men because you pay their salaries or approve their promotions or maybe just keep them employed. Most people are wary of getting on the wrong side of the boss and you may only hear what people think you want to hear. It is your responsibility to be open to criticism and create an environment around you where people can let you know if they disagree with you. "A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” – Martin Luther King,JR
Need for approval: All humans at some level have an intrinsic need for approval. If you cannot trust that your team(s) approval is authentic it will constantly keep you second guessing whenever you take a decision. It is important to let go of this need for approval because try as you might you will never be able to please everyone. When taking a decision start with asking yourself what you want to achieve and why you are doing what you are doing. Be prepared to take tough calls and be wrong.
Celebrity status and the end of privacy: Once you move into a leadership role you acquire a sort of celebrity status in your organisation and in the society. Be aware that everything from your personal life to your clothes to what you say is the feed for gossip around you. Accepting this can be tough on people who like their privacy but this is a price you will pay for your success. Learn to deal with this with dignity. Better still use it to your advantage! Again remember you can’t please everyone and you don’t need to . What is important is to feel good about yourself. Do whatever it takes to make that happen; whether it is to hire an image consultant or lose weight or just plain ignore others.
Playing to perceptions…or not?: Each person has their own perception of what a leader should be. The only common factor in these perceptions are that they expect you to be better than them in all aspects and expect you to lead. “I’m still me” may not always be the right go-to line for you. You are expected to live up to certain ideals and behaviours. Having said that it is still your prerogative whether or not you want to do this and how much. It is critical to strike a balance between authenticity ( after all that’s key to being a leader) and retaining the aura of being the leader.