Leadership is difficult. The burden of doing what is right with what is trusted to you is heavy. And it’s certain you will stumble and you will fall. You will make mistakes and you will make missteps. The longer you lead, the more burdens you will bear and the heavier it can seem.
And if you are in a position of leadership and you are pursuing big goals and big dreams one day you will say to yourself “I can’t do this anymore.” And you will be right. You can’t. But is that a bad thing? I maintain that its good news. You have come to the end of your skills and you are now dependent on others to succeed.
If you are in a leadership role facing a project that is bigger than your skills can handle – you need others. The larger the vision the more dependent you are on others and the more certain it is that you will face days where you say to yourself, “I can’t do this”.
I’m not sure you are getting my point. You can’t do it. That’s right, you can’t do it. Let that sink in. And as a leader you are not supposed to do it. You need others to help you. And your new role is in service to finding that team and helping them achieve their goals. To quote Rick Warren, “It’s not about you”. In this case, it’s about them.
So about this burden of leadership and about the weight of responsibility; is it possible to lighten the load?
I’ve found personally that you can lighten the load by accepting what you can do and finding others to do the rest. You transfer the weight of doing things, but not the weight of responsibility. And certainly not the pressure of getting things done. A good leader doesn’t blame the team if in the end the task is not done. Don’t pass the buck. Don’t pass the blame. It’s still the leaders responsibility.
When your team makes a mistake the best thing you can do for them is to take the blame. Cover the responsibility. Do what you have to do to protect them. This helps your team trust you more. It helps them want to work harder because of your loyalty for them. Take the arrows – that’s part of serving the team when you are the leader.
Help others create their ownership and help others have a win. Design for them to be successful. Make plans for their success. Don’t focus on you. Focus on them. Service is key.
That’s right. Leadership is really service. As a leader you must serve your team, your customers, your shareholders. Serve serve serve. You need more than yourself and when you focus on yourself the burden can seem too hard to carry. When you focus on how you can help your team, your customers, your shareholders – strangely the weight shifts. It’s as if by magic.
Leadership is about service to others. Remember that you can’t do it alone and you need others and your burden will lighten up. Keep it that simple.
Spoken from experience. 😉