“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams, sixth President of the United States
Growing up, we all want to be leaders – leaders of a country, a state, an office, or even a neighbourhood. But what no one tells you about is how hard it is to remain one. Occupying the position on paper sounds may make you feel indestructible, but the intermittent challenges that the role brings to you on a daily basis are far less glamorous.
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Being a great leader means making some very difficult choices, ones which may even go against the very core of your being. Being trusted with the responsibility of running an office – any office – calls for a need to be objective, impartial, and purposeful. Being human, you may not always find these traits as endearing as they appear when someone else glorifies them. Sometimes you’ll have to take a call for the company which may make you highly unpopular among its employees. Sometimes you’ll have to let go of the most likeable worker in the office because they didn’t measure up.
While every leader aims to be viewed favourably among their subjects, he or she intrinsically understands that they don’t need to be liked in order to be effective.
Here are a few standard workplace situations where leaders face the greatest challenges:
Ego clashes leading to confrontations, leading to changing group dynamics, are not unheard of. At times like these, when your employees cannot seemingly sort out the issue by their own merit, then it falls on you, as their leader, to resolve the crisis. It is imperative that you be objective and lend an unbiased ear to both sides of the party and draw up a measure that suits both favourably.
The new employee from the sales team might be a pain in the behind, yapping away and distracting his colleagues, passing unnecessary innuendos in conversations, and showing off about the outlandish numbers he procured in his last job. The rest of your team may even hate him and you may have gotten more than one complaint against him. However, as long as he isn’t breaking any real office-rules, making his colleagues feel uncomfortable and not getting the job done, then you as a leader cannot evade or be rid of him, no matter how much you may grumble about him at home. In office, he is another valuable asset to your company.
Over the course of time, you may begin to make your employees your priority. And while that is always a good trait, you need to remember that your loyalty lies with your company, and by virtue of that, you are expected to do what it takes to carry out projects which will help it, even if it sometimes clashes with the interest of your employees. At the end of the day, you will be valued on the work you get done, not how many stars your employees rate you.
Everyone has long and hard days at office. But while your team can wail about the long hours and difficult clients to each-other and to you, you are required to maintain an impassive face and figure it out for them eventually. With the weight of the particular project or campaign gone wrong on your shoulders, you probably wish to kick-box your frustration or fall in an exhausted heap on your desk. But you’re the leader, and you need to lead by example. Difficult as it may be, you can’t afford to crack in front of your team. You’re their pillar and you’re needed to put up a strong fort.
It isn’t easy being a leader. The title is both a boon and a curse. But to be a great one, you do what it takes, by whichever measure necessary. After all, you team is relying on you to give it your all. Don’t disappoint them.