Some have and do actually lead. Others … not so much.
I read lots of the leadership tweets and some of the Leadership Blogs. There are just too many to read them all or even most. Truth be told, I read a very tiny slice of what’s posted each day but I’ve noticed that most of them have one thing in common: tweeting and blogging about leadership can kind of make it sound easy.
Here’s one thing that you should know about leadership and never doubt this for a minute. Leadership, authentic leadership, is not easy. It requires courage, sacrifice, caring, determination, knowledge, sound judgement, experience dealing with people, and perhaps most of all commitment.
It requires commitment because people leading will be an interruption to your plans. Your people’s need for support doesn’t punch a clock. You can have your own “stuff” to accomplish but the moment that you put your people off for yourself, you begin to fail as a leader.
Authentic leaders willingly sacrifice what they want for what their people need. They do it because they care about their people and they lead for others sake, not their own.
Leading requires you to hang in there when it’s tough, even on days you’re not up to it. You can’t lead if you try to take a pass on the hard decisions. You can’t truly lead if you’re going to try to hide from the responsibility that comes with leading.
It’s easy to talk, tweet or write about leadership. Real conversations between a leader and one of their people can at times be the most challenging of conversations. Telling someone the kind of things they don’t want to hear is never comfortable. Telling someone they aren’t performing nearly as well as they thought they were requires delicate compassion and courage to confront the situation as soon as possible. Authentic leaders know that very often the tough conversations are the ones most needed and the ones that can pay the biggest dividends.
Authentic leadership is a 24 hour a day, seven day a week commitment. There will be times when you just don’t want to lead and those are likely the times when your authentic leadership will be most needed. If you’re going to truly lead then you’re going to have to hang in there for everyone else.
I’ll continue to read, think, and write about leadership. I’d encourage you to do the same. Every leader, no matter their experience still has much to learn about leading. Remember this as you learn: real leadership is not about what you think, know or even about what you think you know. Real leadership is about what you do, when you do it and most certainly, it’s about how you do it.