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10 Leadership Lessons Learned the Hard Way

leadership lessons hard way

As a leader, I’ve had my share of upbeats and beatdowns. Through them all, I’ve picked up some leadership nuggets I’ve learned the hard way.

Here are 10 of them. If you’re a leader, I hope my mistakes and successes help you.

1. If you’re not willing to clean a toilet, you shouldn’t be a leader.

The notion that you’re too good for something (or someone) makes you a weak leader. A leader is someone who has the humility and drive to do whatever it takes to make sure the goal is achieved. When you set that kind of example, other leaders will, too. As the greatest leader of all-time revealed, “The greatest among you must be your servant.”

2. Making wise decisions is at the heart of leadership.

As a leader, you will need more wisdom than you can possibly imagine. I once heard wisdom described as “knowledge with scars.” That’s so true. When making a call to turn left or right, to say yes or no, to go for it or wait, seek counsel, hear all sides and do the wise thing.

3. Trying to make everyone happy is a sure-fire way to make no one happy.

You will have to make tough decisions that won’t be popular. But if you make decisions based on what everyone wants, you will be in a world of hurt. Why? Because the masses aren’t always right. Remember what you’re Momma taught you, “Just because everyone else is doing it…” The right thing to do is often not the popular thing to do.

4. If you aren’t fully invested, no one else will be either.

There’s nothing worse than following a half-hearted leader who is going through the motions. Eventually, other leaders will fill the void and pull your team in many different directions, creating conflict. Or it creates a “who gives a rip” mentality. In which case, it’s better to stay at home and watch reruns of Saved by the Bell before you do any more damage.

5. Not all leaders are power-hungry tyrants.

We live in a culture that is suspicious of all leaders. Bad ones do exist, but most leaders are well-meaning folks just trying to do the right thing, the right way, with the right people. Pointing a finger at them does no good. Connect with them. Learn from them. Encourage them. They need it. And if you’re worried they will turn into power-hungry tyrants, don’t. Those kind of leaders are rare and don’t last forever. Just ask Ghadaffi.