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The Price of Leadership

"The choice to lead because of benefits, benefits no one, not even the leader." John C. Maxwell

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Many of us are put into leadership positions, initially, because of our expertise. We do great work, we get promoted and/or start to manage a small team, then a larger one, and so on. In the process we receive a lot of perks like recognition, money, title, and so on.

It took me many years to pause and reflect why I wanted to continue this path of leading others. Let’s face it: leading people is a lot of work. And the perks we receive come with a high price tag.

What came up for me was that I had the capacity and the desire to make a difference in someone else’s career, which would impact their life as well  since both are interconnected. I wanted to set an example on being confident, decisive, and the exception. I also wanted to model emotional intelligence mainly trust, empathy, and authenticity.

Those are still my motivators to lead people. I learned that we all want and need direction and, God knows we are in desperate need of solid leadership examples. If we are in a position to guide others, why not do so?

In his book Leadershift, John C. Maxwell writes, ‘the choice to lead because of benefits, benefits no one, not even the leader. Focusing on perks won’t take you anywhere worthwhile because deep inner fulfillment never comes from perks’.

There was one occasion when I deviated from my integrity and sought a promotion only because of the perks of title, recognition, and money. I immediately noticed the internal misalignment. My level of satisfaction with the work and the people around me immediately plummeted. And of course, the promotion did not come.

Thankfully, I was able to come back quickly to my center and put in front my why once more.

Being a leader is not effortless. That is why it is so important to keep the integrity with your why, your true motivations, your purpose.

“Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.” – Publilius Syrus

According to John C. Maxwell in his book Leadershift, there are three prices to honor as we continue to reach our potential as leaders.

1) Reality

Anything worth achieving takes hard, grueling work. It takes time. Often, we do things we do not really feel like doing. It is uncomfortable. And at the same time, we keep our vision in front of us and the hope that we will arrive at our destination.

We must balance both the hope and the harsh reality of what needs to be done. This is true for us and for the people we lead and influence.

When I first started my career, I raised my hand to stand-in for one of my colleagues when she was on a one-week vacation. This was in the mid-90s so there was no remote work – when people were out on vacation, it was hard to reach them. I almost cried every single day of that week. Doing her job was tough and there were many things I did not know.

With the support of my manager and my internal belief that I was going to make it, I kept going and finished the week. It would have been much easier for me to tell my boss, ‘I can’t do this. Please, ask someone else’.

It was the balance of reality (it was difficult to do) and hope (I believed I would make it to the other side). That experience catapulted me to other challenges and projects. I strongly believe that going through this journey separated me from the crowd of my peers at the time.

“The price of greatness is responsibility.” – Winston Churchill

2) Example

Being the example, many times means going first into unchartered territory. Because leaders do more and before than others, people will follow. It is easier to follow a path than to build it.

Building a new path, being the example is no picnic. After all, we are human. And many times, we feel like slacking off, putting off the project or task at hand, wanting someone else to take care of things for a change. We may be afraid of going into the unknown. All these thoughts and feelings are normal and understandable.

That is where our self-belief, own expectations, and commitments are essential to keep us from defaulting to what is comfortable and easy.

When we think of the most famous and inspiring leaders (dead or alive) they all have been an example in (and sometimes out) of their milieu: Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, Steve Jobs, Oprah, and the list goes on and on.

The other aspect of being the example when it comes to leadership, is directly linked to the influence we have on others. This is what is referred to as the shadow of the leader. What we do (or don’t do) has a direct impact on how others in the organization or the team behave.

I mentor in a non-for-profit organization that helps people obtain better employment. One of the requirements for the trainees is to dress professionally when attending each weekly session. I show up for each session in professional attire as well, even though for me, as a mentor, that requirement is optional. It is easier and more comfortable for me to wear my favorite pair of jeans and a sweater or hoodie. I choose to dress professionally to set the example for my mentee and for the rest of the trainees in the cohort. And even for some of the other mentors to take note and do the same.

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right thing.” – Peter F. Drucker

3) Consistency

Consistency is one of the most arduous things for us to maintain. That is why industries that rely on us being consistent to maintain results, like weight loss, generate billions of dollars. There is no intermission for leadership.

We get discouraged because we want to see instant results and, unfortunately, the important and worthy things in life take consistent effort and action over time. We may lose weight in 30 days, but we need consistency to keep it off. We may fall in love at first sight, but we need consistency to build a solid, loving, and lasting relationship. We may immediately nail the interview and get the job offer on the spot, but we need consistency to execute our role well, and grow in the company.

According to John C. Maxwell, these are some of the advantages of consistency:

  • It provides security for others.
  • It establishes our reputation.
  • It keeps us in the leadership game.
  • It compounds.

Keeping these benefits in mind will give us a compass, a North star to use every time we feel like going back to the comfort zone. It will not make being consistent any easier. It will give us an additional jolt of energy to keep going even when we do not see immediate results.

“Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal.” – Vince Lombardi

How do you go about the three prices in your leadership journey? Please, let us know in the comments. You can write in English, Spanish, Portuguese or French.

My mission is to help women transform their inner voice from critic to champion, so they can confidently realize and fulfill their potential achieving what they want most for themselves, their families, communities, organizations, and teams.

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