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10 Leadership Lessons Learned the Hard Way

6. A title doesn’t make you a leader.

Leaders aren’t designated; they emerge. If you need a title to make you a leader, you will have insecurity issues and fail to win the heart of a team. Don’t let that be you. Lead where you are, and when you’re finally in a position of influence, you will be ready for it. As Seth Godin says, “Managers want authority. Leaders take responsibility.”

7. All leaders need heroes, friends and grasshoppers.

No leader should lead alone!

You need mentors. You need to learn from pioneers who have paved the way and have the scars to prove it.

You also need running mates who are beside you, encourage you, and vice versa.

And you need to pass on what you’re learning to someone else (a grasshopper). You should invest yourself in the development of future leaders, perhaps even your replacement. That’s a mark of a great leader.

8. Vision really does matter.

Vision is a picture of where you’re going. Without it, everybody guesses. Without it, all decisions end with a question mark. Without it, you’re just wasting gas on a road trip to nowhere.

9. You suck at something.

If you’re a confident leader, you will not only have a strong sense of what you’re gifted at, but also a realistic knowledge of where you’re not. If you’re a confident leader, you will learn to pass those responsibilities on to someone who is. Sadly, insecure leaders think the sun rises and falls on them, and their mission and team suffer because they are pigheaded. Make your life and leadership better by giving those areas of weakness away.

10. Your inputs should outweigh your outputs.

Most leaders push the pedal to the metal, never paying attention to the fuel gauge. They go and go and go until the gas runs out. Suddenly, they’re stranded and find themselves walking miles to the nearest gas station to get a refill. What a waste of time!

Wise leaders rarely let their levels get near empty. They know to fill up frequently in order to avoid being stranded. Even if they feel like they don’t need it. As a result, they go further and enjoy the journey much more than the frustrated leaders they drive by on the road to their destination.

It’s important to rest, create margin and avoid over-stuffing your life. There’s a better, much healthier way.

Sadly, I had to learn it the hard way.