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Are you a natural born leader? Or maybe you're a late bloomer? Or maybe you don't want to lead … or maybe you want to only lead from the shadows? There is a cost to being a leader, so are you ready for it? Because no matter what your beliefs are you will be in a leadership position at one point in your life whether you want it or not.
Some people think that leadership is something you are born with. Other's believe it can be trained … well, I'm here to tell you that both are correct. It's partially your genetics, but it's largely your upbringing and your experience with leadership. It can be trained: but do you want to be a leader? It's not for everyone is there is a very heavy cost to pay.
First, we need to understand what a leader really is. Google defines it as:
- the person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country.
synonyms: chief, head, principal;
Thus, a leader is: a person who is in charge, looked to for direction and instruction, a person who is the source of motivation and the driving force for whatever thing they are part of; be it a company, a project, an event and even a family.
So then, what is leadership? Wikipedia has a rather long, and interesting, article about leadership which I recommend you read. It starts as such:
Leadership has been described as “a process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task”, although there are alternative definitions of leadership. For example, some understand a leader simply as somebody whom people follow, or as somebody who guides or directs others, while others define leadership as “organizing a group of people to achieve a common goal”
In essence: Getting people to do stuff of their own free will.
A good leader then makes sure that people are happy to help, are doing work worth doing, takes care of his flock and is ethical. Truth be told, this is only a small part of what makes a good leader.
The problem for most people isn't the ethics nor the quality of work, the problem is the pressure it puts on you.
The cost of being the leader is that you are always responsible. I don't mean you'll be the one taking the blame, but you will be the one who has to always give the order, make the decisions and even deal with the wackos. You are where the buck stops, which means you will be the final decision maker on everything.
You might be thinking: “That's great! I can finally make the decisions I want to make and get things done my way! It's a double-edged sword.
If you're in an office where politics come into play, you can't always make any decision you want and every decision you make will be scrutinized. Here are some ‘costs' of being a leader:
- You will be help responsible and accountable for everyone under you.
- It's your responsibility that everyone knows what to do.
- As the leader, it's your job to make the hard decisions … even if it's choices you don't like.
- Peoples jobs, lives and emotional state will depend on you.
- You will be constantly asked for your time, expertise, to answer basic question, to have all the right answers, and even to always know what to do.
So, is this the type of pressure you can handle? Is this the type of position you want to be in?
It's not a position for everybody. So is it right for you?
ninja edit side note: of course, not all leadership positions are high stress. But you will encounter higher levels of dependency as a leader than you would otherwise. Whether it's a parent or a boss, you will be responsible for people.