Leading can be a struggle when someone is openly resisting you. Be it a team member, friend, or loved one, resistance feels like it is hurting us.
You may feel challenged or not believed. Or it might be the vision you presented to your organization is put to the test. Or maybe you entered into an agreement and now the agreement is in question.
Resistance comes in many shapes and sizes. None of them are easy to deal with.
Yet, I believe, resistance is critical to the success of great leaders.
Why Leaders Need To Face Resistance
Have you ever flown in an airplane? I hadn’t until my honeymoon over 14 years ago. Since then, I’ve experienced flight many times.
One thing that always sticks out to me is the way a plane takes off. You hear the roar of the engines. You feel the plane begin to roll forward. Then you sense the resistance the plane faces just before the wheels leave the ground.
There’s something “holding” the airplane from taking off. At least for a little while.
The airplane will face air resistance. The air will push back against the plane, trying to slow it down. The airplane will win. Yet there is resistance.
This resistance isn’t a bad thing for the airplane. In fact, the airplane needs resistance to take off and to stay in the air.
“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that as a plane takes off against the wind, not with it” – Henry Ford
Have you ever felt resistance to an idea or vision? You have. Every leader has, or will.
Don’t become frustrated when you begin to push towards a vision or goal and you begin to feel resistance push against you. The resistance may slow you down for a little while. But, then, the resistance will do something you weren’t expecting.
As you begin to go faster than the resistance, you will begin to rise up. You will take off and launch faster than you would have without the resistance.
Another Reason To Embrace Resistance
There’s another reason leaders need to be okay with resistance. This one might hurt a bit but it is true, nonetheless.
Lord Acton was a historian and moralist. He is probably most well known for his quote about power.
Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
No one wants to believe they can be corrupted. Yet, with enough unchecked power, it is possible for a leader to use his power in the wrong way.
Facing resistance helps temper the power of a leader. He is able to see there is opposition ready to challenge him if he gets too far out of line.
Resistance can be a great check and balance system if we allow it to be.