The Hardest Thing I Have to Do as a Leader

August 16, 2009

For me, it is to treat people in ways they don’t treat me.  To care about people that don’t care about me.  To be fair to people that are not fair to me. To give a second, third, and fourth chance to folks that would throw me under the bus if they had the chance.  To hold my tongue about people that disparage me.  To help those that I am quite sure will never return the favor.

This is especially difficult if you have even a little bit of position power.  Power can be intoxicating, and it does not take much power to cause good people to do bad things.

But all this comes with the territory.  If you are not willing to struggle every day to rise above it, you don’t deserve the privilege of leading others.

It is not a battle I win every day, but it is one I find worth fighting.

What is the hardest thing you have to do as a leader? 2972996935_5568eed415sm

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  1. I practice the law of reciprocity, and believe in the importance of altruism. On a near-daily basis, I am reminded that not everyone lives, loves, learns and leads by the same values as me. As frustrating as reality is, I accept that I cannot change the values, attitudes, or behaviors of other people.

    That being said, I’m left with two choices: I can turn away from generously sharing my time, talents and treasures with other people, or I can give what I can, when I can, as Mother Teresa said:

    “People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Love them anyway. If you do good, people may accuse you of selfish motives. Do good anyway. If you are successful, you may win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway. People who really want help may attack you if you help them. Help them anyway. Give the world the best you have and you may get hurt. Give the world your best anyway.” – Mother Teresa

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    This is why people know you have the heart of a leader. I LOVE the quote you shared. I’ve never seen it before but it is exceptional. Love it. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts, Angie! Bret

  2. Chris Yeh says:

    Paradoxically, sometimes the hardest thing I do as a leader is to treat people as I *wouldn’t* want to be treated.

    As a leader, you must find the best way to connect with each person; that may not be the way you yourself would prefer.

    I wouldn’t want someone to tell me what to do, but I’ve worked with people who preferred that style. Managing them was quite stressful!

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Great point, Chris! I too have a hard time telling people how to do things. I prefer to describe the desired outcome and let them find their own way there. Thanks for sharing! Bret