My first positional leadership assignment was in 1987. I was 21 years old and was teaching 2nd graders in Vacation Bible School. Things have changed a lot since those early days.
It was a fun week and I learned a lot. However, the hardest lessons I learned through the years were by trial and error, through experience. Here is what I wished people would have told me about leadership when I began to serve.
- The hardest and most important person to lead is yourself.
- Preparation is more important the presentation. In other words, your success is determined by the hard work you put in privately.
- Leaders very rarely have two good days in a row.
It is that final lesson I want to spend a little time on. Leadership has many privileges but the fine print on the leadership contract is the price you are required to pay to be successful. It is because of that price that leaders often get blind-sided and can become very frustrated. That is why I try to “comfort” young disillusioned leaders by telling them that they will rarely have two consecutive good days.
After recovering from the shock and surprise of that statement, they learn that leadership demands constantly:
- Putting out fires.
- Resolving conflict.
- Breaking new ground.
- Making hard decisions.
- Sometimes releasing people.
- Being responsible for the mistakes of others.
- Having people disappointed in you.
- Having people question your skills, competencies, and/or motives.
- Leading people who think they could do your job better than you.
- Dealing with failure.
But here is what else I tell leaders – stay focused, stay strong, and stay in the game! Your leadership is desperately needed. The vision you are casting is inspiring others and providing direction. Though people sometimes seem unappreciative, you are improving the quality of their life.
Finally, I want to say to leaders who may have had a bad day today, ” Thank You!” And then remind them that tomorrow will be better.