It may seem that leaders get all of the credits without having to share the pain. But great leaders know there is more to their work than visible. So much of what it takes to be a leader often goes unnoticed. The behind the scenes and after-hours, the tough decisions that need to be made, everything! Leading a distributed team is rewarding. But incredibly challenging too, especially because we care deeply about our colleagues. It is hardly easy to give honest feedback to people you really care about. It is even harder to part ways, regardless of the situation. The real truth is that leaders experience many joyful moments, along with moments of disappointment. The ongoing learning process makes one a better leader. Anyone who aspiring leadership must push on and allow challenges to shape them. Here are some of the tough lessons that every great leader will learn:
1. Trust takes time and energy.
Do not assume trust will occur naturally over time. Being likable is not the same as being trusted. You will realize that you can spend your time and energy trying to be liked or you can invest in being a trustworthy and effective leader. But you cannot do both.
2. Kindness is underrated.
You may think that your leadership position gives you license to say or do whatever you want. But a single careless comment can cause a lot of havoc. Showing kindness may be an underrated but is necessary. It can transform how you lead your team and send a clear message for how they should treat each other.
3. Words are hollow.
Your words are meaningless unless you follow through with action. So work on goals and your commitments. Proving yourself will inspire your team to support your plan and to be part of making it a success.
4. Status quo is safe.
This truth is especially tough for leaders who join a new organization. There are many others when a new leader starts who are more comfortable maintaining the status quo than embracing new challenges. You may need to evaluate your team and make some tough choices about who can break free and strive to keep getting better.
5. Power trips ensue.
Power can go to your head if you are not constantly vigilant. And even still you will have moments where ego bests humility. Good leaders invest in a daily effort to be humble and consider the work that each person is contributing. Practice putting the needs of the team before your own. The less time you spend thinking about yourself, the better.
6. Not everyone is to stay.
You do your best to earn trust, follow through on your plans and treat others with kindness. Yet this does not ensure that everyone will stay in your organization. People leave for personal reasons or because they cannot accept change or challenges. Your job is to accept it, ensure that the person’s departure does not disrupt others, and move forward.