4 Frustrating Realities Of Leadership

While leadership has it’s upsides, there’s also the dark side of leadership. Rarely talked about in public, the frustrating reality of being a leader is often hid. But this needs to change.

We need to publicly acknowledge leadership may not be for everyone. Leadership may hurt more than you thought. Leadership may not even be fun! There are frustrating realities to leadership. Let’s discuss them today.

 

If you’ve been in leadership for any period of time, you know that leadership can be a burden rather than a joy. You may dread going into the office. You may dread going to the church service you lead. Or you might dread waking up and leading your family. You will find yourself frustrated as you lead. There’s no doubt in my mind. Something will happen and frustrations will rise. Frustrating realities of leadership are:

People won’t listen: A good leader wants their team to listen. Not because the leader wants to be heard but because the leader knows the way and wants to show their team how to get there.

Knowing the way doesn’t mean people will listen. Rather, you might find people will want to go their own way and do their own thing.

Your responsibility isn’t to get people to listen. Your responsibility is to show the way. It’s up to the individual whether or not they’ll follow your lead.

The choice is yours on whether or not you’ll lead regardless if people are listening.

People are always watching you: Probably the most frustrating aspect of leadership is the fact all eyes are on you. Even when you’re off duty.

Pam and I have discovered this through our many years with the E3 youth group.

Whether we’re at Meijer doing our grocery shopping, attending the Five Iron Frenzy reunion concert, or taking a stroll through downtown Muskegon, we know there are people watching us. They’re looking to see if we’re the same outside of the church as we are inside.

This is a tough leadership reality. But it’s one we have to live with.

Know people are watching you. They’re trying to decide whether or not you’re authentic. Don’t give them a reason to believe otherwise.

People will change long after you’re their leader: Every good leader is leading because they want to impact the lives of others. They want to see change. And they want to be the catalyst for change.

Yet, the truth of the matter is, there’s a good likely-hood you will never see the change.

People take time to change. Various circumstances and life choices will impact their lives. You will also. But the results will not be immediate, at least not most of the time.

Instead, it’s much like a seed you plant.

There’s a lot of work going on underground that goes unseen. Even once the sprout has burst through the soil, there’s a lot of work to be done. There’s the need for water and sunshine. And time. There’s always the time factor.

Eventually, the seed sprouts, breaks through the surface, and then beautiful flowers and fruit begin to bloom.

Don’t forget people are like seeds. They take nurturing. They take love. They take time.

People will fail: No one is perfect. Not even you or the best leader you’ve had.

Everyone has their faults. Everyone lets someone down at some point.

And your team will let you down.

This may come through a major IT breakdown, a failed project, or bad communication. There will be letdowns as a leader.

The best thing you can do as a leader is to recognize this fact. Find a way to become okay when someone fails you. Know they’re human, just like you.

Leadership isn’t all sunshine and roses. Leadership is a lot of hard work. Leadership also has a lot of frustrating realities.

Don’t let your leadership become sidetracked when you face the negative aspects of leadership. They’re there for everyone.

Poor leaders let them derail their leadership. Great leaders realize everything has a downside. It’s how you respond that determines how well you lead.

Question: What are other negative realities of leadership you’ve encountered? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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

  • MsM

    Good piece – I appreciate the candor shared here. Unsure I agree with your failure context, but I get where you’re going with it. For me, failure is when my team quits on me. I don’t mind if they make mistakes or let me down — as long as they learn and move on; rebounding is more important than the misstep itself.

    As a leader, I see possibility and opportunity everywhere, so I would add the frustration of missed opportunities: an individual not taking on that new initiative, your team shying away from a partnership, the organization not tackling a challenge.

    Missing great opportunities to come closer to realizing the vision is what just kills me.

    • Okay, maybe failure wasn’t the best way to put it. Saying people will make mistakes could have been better but I think failure can still fit. I’m glad the message still got through.

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  • I like the honesty! I think you’ve hit some really good points about the truth of leadership. Sometimes leading sucks. Sometimes we don’t get the appreciation we would like or feel we deserve. But ultimately, we must know WHY we are leading. What our motives are. If they are selfish, then when challenges like this emerge, we won’t handle it with grace.
    Challenges are opportunities for growth…a good leader realizes this.

  • Day2Play

    I agree with M – nice piece. Mistakes are good if they are learned from. People listen when they are ready to listen and act when they are ready to act. Finding those points is the hard part. I get frustrated when I forget that not everyone brings the same (my level of) passion and commitment to the table. Understanding that others are motivated by differnt realities helps me connect with team members on their level.

    • True that, you’ve got to be willing to learn from mistakes for them to be worth it.