Go to any business or leadership blog online and you’ll find a lot of the same types of articles, ranging from general topics like “How to Become a Great Leader” to inspirational topics like “How to Stay Motivated as a Business Owner.” Great advice to be sure. But we can’t avoid discussing some of the “hard truths” of leadership, the challenges that we have to face if we want to be truly great leaders.
I know: dwelling on these truths can make you seem negative. However, paying them reasonable balanced attention will leave you much better prepared for what lies ahead.
Here are some of those “hard truths” that you should think about.
- Business is political, period. You’re going to have to mange politics every single day in the business world; that’s just the way it works. However, this isn’t always a bad thing. For example, you need to be able to learn how to read people, assess their interests and personality and determine how you can interact with them to influence their actions in support of your objectives. If you don’t play politics within reason, you’ll never get the most out of your employees, business partners or clients.
- Success breeds contempt. While you’re climbing the ladder to success, you’re likely to have plenty of people to support you along the way. But the higher you go, the less support you’ll receive. You’ll even have others who may try to bring you down. This is reality, and it’s important to be aware of this ahead of time so that you can strengthen your will to prepare yourself for success.
- Some people are waiting for you to fail. This goes along with the previous point. You may get to a point where people are expecting, even hoping, for you to fail. And you’re going to fail; everyone does at some point. But when it happens, you can’t give those people the satisfaction of getting discouraged or giving up. Learn from what caused you to stumble. Then get up, adjust, and move on. If you’re able to take failure as an opportunity to improve, you’ll become a much better leader for it.
- Learn to accept blame and defer credit. We live in a society where leaders are expected to be humble and responsible. We see it in the business world, the sports world, the political world, etc. Nothing rubs the average person the wrong way like a person who takes credit for his or her team’s success, or refuses to accept blame for mistakes. Even if you are primarily responsible for a major success of your business, you’ll be expected to give the credit to the rest of your team. It might be frustrating to never get to take the credit for yourself, but that’s part of the burden that comes with being a great leader. Park your ego, accept blame, and defer credit.
There are many more “hard truths” about great leadership, but these are four are a good foundation. Embrace these truths, and you’ll find that you’re much better prepared to handle the many challenges or successes that come your way.
John J. Hall, CPA
John J. Hall, CPA, is an author, speaker and results expert who presents around the world at conventions, corporate meetings and association events.
Throughout his 35-year career as a business consultant, corporate executive and professional speaker, John has helped organizations and individuals achieve measurable results. He inspires audience members in corporations, not-for-profit organizations and professional associations to step up, take action and “do what you can.”