10 Things I Hate About Leadership

As great as leadership can be, there are frustrating struggles every leader will face. We’ll be hard-pressed to enjoy every minute of leadership.

There’s plenty of times I think of the things I hate about leadership. And then the list begins to take shape…

Sometimes I hate leadership so much I could scream!

Image by Kenny Louie

Leadership comes with it’s own pitfalls. The trappings we all hate. The frustrations of making a tough choice. The terror of stepping forward.

Yet we lead, even with the long lists of things we hate.

1. The added responsibility of leadership: Yup, we all step into leadership and know there’s going to be added responsibility. Sometimes the added responsibility that comes with leadership can be overwhelming.

2. The responsibility to make the hard decisions: Leaders are there for a reason. We’re there to set a course, to plot the way, to make decisions. Not every decision we face will be easy. We’ll have to make some really difficult choices.

3. The unclear path: As a young leader, you’ll be put into situations where you have no idea what to do. The path will be hidden. Still, you’re called to go forward even when you can’t see more than one or two sets in front of yourself.

4. The desires of others:Any leader who has been in the leadership game long enough knows this one. There’s a lot of politics in leadership and people try to push their desires on you. You’ll be tempted to go their way rather than to forge your own path.

5. The failures we experience along the way: I know failures are a great pathway to learning. But I don’t like to fail.

6. The feelings of responsibility: This thing I hate about leadership is similar to #1 but different enough I believe it deserves it’s own spot. A weight begins to fall upon you as you lead and you begin to feel responsible for those under you. Quitting or changing positions can make you feel like you’re abandoning those you lead.

7. The influence of my leadership: Leaders realize every action they take has an impact on those around them. Your influence goes beyond your wildest imagination. Sometimes I don’t want to influence anyone.

8. The passing of the baton: There will come a time in every leader’s life where they will have to step down. The leader will have to pass the baton to the next generation. Even knowing this can be difficult. And I hate that!

9. The transitions of others: You spend a lot of time building up others and getting them into the right positions. Only they move on and begin something new. It’s hard to accept but great knowing they’re having an impact in other places.

10. The desire to see people change: People have so much potential. So often they fail to live up to their full potential. Us leaders, we’re able to see the potential but we’re not always able to draw it out. We learn that we can create change in others, we can only try to coax it out.

Question: What’s one thing you hate about leadership? Why do you hate it? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • I agree with #3 the most – I can easily get caught up in the possibilities and overwhelming details that faces leadership. The trap of analysis paralysis is one I step into all too easily.

    One this I hate, is the public expectation that leaders look, talk, and act a specific way. I am rather introverted, and the general expectation is that leaders are charismatic, outspoken, jump up and charge-types, and that approach feels so unnatural to me. Yet I frequently feel the weight of this expectation, both expressed and unexpressed.

    • Those expectations can be pesky. People are are looking for a certain look or persona but the most surprising and best leaders are often the most unexpected. I’m often reminded of the first time I saw Malcolm Gladwell in a TED Talk. He wasn’t what I was expecting in a thought leader but he knows his stuff.

  • Dan Erickson

    I don’t claim to be a leader nor do I wish to be. I don’t really hate anything about leadership though. I’m not crazy about several of the items on your list, but I love #3. I’ll take the unclear path any day. It’s an adventure.

    • Yeah, hate’s a strong word for these things but I think it grabs the attention of people.

  • I hate knowing more than I can share. It creates a very fine line to walk between being transparent and communicative with my team, and keeping things confidential. I say it all the time: “My people aren’t dumb or blind–they know that something is going on.” When I can’t tell them details, I have to stop speculation and rumors. When I can tell them the details, I am asked questions that are none of their business. I do my best to be as straightforward as I possibly can, and they tell me that they appreciate that, but in many cases I just cannot tell them what they want to know. And…I would also say that “hate” is a strong word. The emotion that I would most closely associate with it is annoyed or frustrated.

    • Leslee, I love your heart and the struggle you have with keeping things from your people. Deciding what to and what not to keep from people is a very tough decision.

  • Oh, I particularly like #8, Joseph. Especially considering this recent press conference:


    • Wow, now that’s an impressive way to pass the baton. Thanks for sharing the video Stephen!

    • Nice!

      • Thanks, Dan! There are so many parallels between leadership and conducting, not just superficial ones like this, but in all that we do.

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  • You covered it pretty well.
    Being a leader means being selfless, putting others first. That can be so hard, there are times we want “time alone” but that’s not always possible. There are times we feel like we’ve let people down. We put so much pressure on ourselves, sometimes too much pressure. Learning to let go and trust God, even with our mistakes can be humbling and difficult.
    It’s not easy to be a leader…

    • No, no it’s not TC. But it’s rewarding!

      • Yes, it is. It truly is more blessed to give than to receive.

    • It’s about serving and not being self focused.

  • RcMaFitness

    Number #2., is very true indeed! I, personally, view leadership as a matter of serious responsibility (the matter of serving other people), & without forgetting to be humble, especially when it pertains to those difficult decisions. Thanks Joe for taking the time to pen these important thoughts for us!

    • You’re viewing leadership in the right light. It’s serious and it’s our responsibility to view it as such.

  • Great post! I agree with all your points, but I’d have to say I agree with you most on #3. I am a very black and white person – when I can’t see a clear direction in which to lead, it is most frustrating!

    • Kristen, those have to be some of my most disliked parts of leadership as well. Making decisions that are tough and hurt kills me.

  • Nick #thisyearinmusic

    I don’t agree with all these points, but some of them are valid. What I have more in a leaderboss is not doing something after I’ve done what they’ve asked.

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  • willratliff

    #10 hits home for me the most. I’ve done extensive work with students and young adults. When you see the potential they have and see them struggle and follow a different path than what you know they are capable of, it is definitely heart-wrenching. Thanks for this, Joe!

    • That point hits home for a lot of people. We know there’s potential and when we don’t see it, it’s frustrating. Keep at it though, there will be success stories, even if you don’t see them yourself.

    • I’ve worked with teens/young adults for over 10 years and those moments of positive change are always powerful.

  • Leaders have to bear the weight of final responsibility. Sometimes that weight can be bearing. But it comes with leadership. Great post!

    • Yes we do. Doesn’t always make it fun or enjoyable. Sometimes it brings us to the point of hating that responsibility.

  • I hate leading when others forget to use their brains for themselves. I want my team members to feel empowered to make decisions. When they struggle with what I consider to be basic decisions, it frustrates me. I guess I need more patience, understanding, and a larger heart to teach them.

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