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The Hardest Steps You Must Take to Become a Successful Leader
Successful leaders shoulder the burden of fear for their teams, maintain their honesty and integrity, and learn to lead themselves before they lead others. Leadership is not easy, but leadership coaching can help people notice its beauty and overcome its challenges.
“Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.” – William Shakespeare.
Being an intelligent leader is not easy. Those who have never held a position of leadership may believe that once they get to the top, they can expect others to cater to their needs, but it’s the other way around.
In my leadership and business coaching books and blog posts, I have floated the idea of servant leadership. The role of an intelligent leader in a modern organization is to offer all the support, compassion, empowerment, and opportunities employees need to become their best selves.
Intelligent leaders are servants.
To become an intelligent and successful leader, you must learn to lead yourself. Leading yourself entails growth, which is painful.
Leadership Is Much More Than the Title You Hold
No one teaches you how to be a leader. Leadership coaching experts may guide you, but it is up to you to discover how you can reach all your employees in ways that work for them.
True leadership is not about your title. It is about flexibility, the ability to remain calm under pressure, leading by example, and knowing when to push further.
Successful leaders tend to be lonely. The power dynamics, the information gaps, and the expectations that come with leadership can make anyone lonely.
We have come to accept this loneliness at the top as the normal socio-emotional cost of successful leadership, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
You can’t cut loneliness from the leadership equation, but there are ways to ease its burden.
- Acknowledge loneliness. Feeling lonely means that you are self-aware and human. You can’t expect to become friends with everyone.
- Use loneliness to spur growth. Resilient leaders find opportunities for growth in loneliness. We tend to hate loneliness because it makes us feel empty, and we loathe emptiness. Society has conditioned us to replace emptiness with something as soon as possible. Emptiness is not inherently evil, however. It can allow leaders to read, write, and engage in self-reflection.
- Engage with other lonely executives. Executive coaching appreciates engagement with others who understand your woes. Experienced executive coaches understand leaders’ problems and act as sources of support and empowerment. Connecting with peers may hide outstanding networking opportunities.
Standing by Decisions While Retaining Flexibility
Effective decision-making requires leaders to stand by the decisions they make. Being overly flexible in this respect may broadcast weakness and indecision, but leaders must know when to correct themselves and pivot if necessary.
Delicate balancing acts like this one are emotionally taxing. They require critical thinking and humility.
Fear is one of the archenemies of a cool head and effective leadership. It can paralyze leaders to such an extent that it derails their careers.
Fear does not only afflict leaders. It can permeate entire organizations, eroding productivity and poisoning culture.
Defeating fear is the ultimate test of leadership.
Leaders who can lead themselves learn to overcome fears and turn them into motivational tools. Intelligent leaders know how they can help teams overcome fear and give them courage.
To defeat fear, leaders may elect to shoulder and endure its full burden, freeing everyone else. This is why we tend to think of leadership as an act of courage.
Being Honest Under All Circumstances
We like to think of ourselves as wholesome and honest, yet there are times when our honesty wavers.
When we have to deliver hard truths against possible adversity, we may seek an easier way out. Leaders can’t do that; they must face the headwinds and maintain honesty and integrity, regardless of the consequences.
Leadership is an act of courage. Like growth, it is sometimes painful, but its beauty and satisfaction are boundless. It is an art that is truly worth mastering.