This is my reflection on last ten years, although to be true to my experience some lesson trace back from the high school days.
Experience teaches nothing, but evaluated experience teaches everything ~ John C. Maxwell
1. You are never readyMy grandfather used to say, “Nobody in the family can understand what the head of the house bears for the family, unless they are in his shoes.” The same applies to leadership. No matter how much close you are to a leader or how much you share the burden with him, you are never ready. Times change, the challenges are new. You change too. This is a good thing because you realize you don’t deserve it, so you start with humility. You will needed it.
2. Admit your shortcomings.Self-awareness and personal development is a steady practice for me. Lately, however, I have found myself in the self-examination mode more and more often. Admitting your weaknesses is liberating and, at the same time, it makes you less vulnerable to criticism. It is a growing experience. Also, it helps you connect with people. People admire your gifts, but they connect with you in your weakness. I hope you will not remain in the diagnosed phase but will do something about it.
3. Act out of obedience, not feelings.Leadership is stressful at times. Depending on the area of your leadership, stress may be a reality most of the time. The tension between dealing with your emotions and making the right decision will be a constant struggle. The value system of the leader is very important. I am learning to co-exist with hurt feelings in order to pay the benefit of the greater good.
4. Leaders are rare; most people are counselors and managers.There are many theories that try to deal with the difference between a leader and a manager. My radical approach is: “A leader is a person worth dying for.” I would always put integrity before competency.
5. You don`t decide for people’s lives; they decide for themselves.This sounds counterintuitive, as leaders lead people. What I mean is that no matter how great the leader’s influence on people’s lives, followers decide for themselves. They do have a choice. You don’t have the final word on their lives. This is comforting but at the same time it can be taken as abusive. There’s a fine line between caring, manipulating or even controlling people entrusted to you. The alignment the leader brings toward the vision and mission might be resisted to or misread, because the perception is that you are in the business of “running” people’s dreams. What you’re actually doing is helping them find their passion and dream.
6. You don`t know what you don`t knowThis is not a code word. Often times your might sincerely be blinded and missing something that could either hinder or help your leadership. For example, when I ask other leaders what they think their blind spot is, some say: ”This is a trick question, because if it is a blind spot you don’t see it and, as a result, you don`t know on your own what you cannot see.” This should not discourage you. What you should do, is to make the decision to allow trusted friends to help you in that area.
7. The hardest person to lead is youI didn’t believe this at first. However, the greater influence you have, the more you need to deal with your ego. Rene Brown said it better – you need to check your ego at the door. Another question I have started to ask myself lately is, “Would I follow me?”