They say that people don’t quit bad jobs; they quit bad bosses. It’s an unfortunate reality that many leaders, whether in the workplace or anywhere else, are in their positions for selfish reasons. Some may want the extra pay from being a leader, while others may just want to satisfy their own egos.
The desire to be in charge is fairly common in society. It comes from a need for control and the instinct to tend to one’s needs. These notions have given rise to some pretty bad leaders with the mistaken belief that their positions of power serve to benefit them.
The truth is far more nuanced. In fact, good leaders work knowing that they will have to give up the most and work the hardest. This is because a leader is ideally a servant of his or her people, striving to guide them to success. There is no one way to do this, and a leader should not strive to solve every problem of a company or organization, but the key element is the ability to sacrifice to move forward.
The concept of sacrifice is inherent in many startups. Even beyond leadership, fledgling companies may have to give up some parts of their business in order to survive. Some startup owners even forgo their paychecks first when cuts need to be made. In any case, it’s about seeing a project through to the end, and fostering an idea that you love.
And, even in a larger company, leaders have to keep giving to move forward. Making progress always comes with some kind of cost, and it’s up to leaders to determine what they will need to contribute in order to turn projected growth into reality. Even if it just requires working longer hours, a good leader will be willing to put in the effort to make a positive change.
The other irony about leadership involves accepting responsibility. It may seem unfair, but leaders need to accept responsibility for failures while also glorifying the whole team for successes. The problem with shifting blame elsewhere is that it doesn’t help you fix an issue, and can breed mistrust and resentment in an organization. Even if a leader is not directly responsible, it is up to them to address their team about how to move forward.
This is a great example of how a leader should operate. The willingness to fail forward, to keep reevaluating in order to improve, is what leaders should strive for. It is for this reason that individuals willing to work toward self-improvement often end up in leadership positions.
If all of this sounds a bit daunting, that’s perfectly fair! Nobody goes into a leadership position with the expectation that they’ll be able to coast. Job titles are irrelevant; it’s what you do with the tools and people you’ve been given that grant you the right to lead. This will require sacrifice on your part, but if you’re willing to give up your time and energy to make a difference, then you may have what it takes to be a strong leader!