Leadership is Challenging

The leadership journey is a long and trying one. There are ups and downs, successes and failures. One reason leadership is so valuable is because it’s so rare. While there are those of us who know its importance and try to live by it, there are those that are either unaware of the concept or just plain old don’t care. This is where a part of the challenge lies: trying to lead people that don’t realize they need to be led, and trying to lead people that refuse to be led altogether.

Understanding the Need for Leadership

Theoretically, there are leaders, leadees, and followers. The very definition of a leader is to draw leadees and followers to work together toward a vision. But, this is the real world…

Not everyone realizes the importance of leadership
Not everyone realizes the role leadership plays in every day life
Not everyone understands the relationships between leaders, leadees, and followers
Not everyone wants to lead
Not everyone wants to be led
Not everyone believes that leadership is worth the effort

This is a part of the leadership challenge, and as frustrating as it may be, leaders need to experience it and push through it. Take what you can from each experience and move on.
Past and Present/Future

I’ve worked with many people that aren’t familiar with the concept of leadership. I’ve noticed that older generations either aren’t familiar with or care about the concept of leadership. While the word “leadership” is thrown around nowadays by every organization and professional, it’s still a cutting-edge concept because of its complexity and the difficulty in implementing it. It takes talent, creativity, and an open-mind to make leadership work. Leadership still hasn’t taken hold of the world; I’ve been a part of several organizations that have no intention of finding and raising leaders. I have a business degree, so I understand the focus on profits, but, if a company wants long-term growth, investing in people and leadership is the way to go. In my experiences, it’s small businesses that are lagging in leadership.

Old-school management was all about the employer-employee relationship. Managers were making sure employees were doing their job and enforcing rules and procedures. There was a boss and the employees. Old-school management was strict, while leadership is more relaxed. Leadership is more of laissez-faire style, giving people an objective and letting them work their way through it on their own. That’s how people grow and improve. Leadership has a team attitude.

If there is one way to show the difference in generations, I would say it’s through the ideas of management and leadership. Management is outdated, with leadership being the new-and-improved idea. It’s understandable that previous generations are unwilling to accept the new thought, the basis of management was “there’s only one way to do this – do it or you’re fired”. The thought of leadership saying “here is what we’re trying to do – let’s do it” goes against everything they know. This disparity certainly makes for a challenge in leading in today’s world.

Don’t Refuse Leadership

People refuse to be led for all sorts of reasons. Recently, I was involved with a manager whose ego would not allow him to be led. While it was clear to myself and others that he was not a strong leader, he was convinced he was the company’s superstar. His attitude was that he was above everyone else. If someone were to question a decision , he routinely embarrassed them by screaming profanities and belittling them. Not only is this irrational behavior and management at it’s worst, it’s terrible leadership. He demanded respect, but he didn’t command respect. Many of the employees that worked under him did not respect him or believe in him as a leader. Many of the employees under this manager had great leadership potential, but when they tried to lead him, he became threatened by this, ultimately halting any growth in his department.

It’s extremely difficult dealing with these types of people. You have to make a judgment call on who you want to invest time and energy into. Some people will see the importance and value of leadership, and some won’t. The question is, how much time and energy do you invest in someone before it’s evident they won’t get it? Sometimes the answer is to just cut ties and move in different directions. Leadership is full of challenges, how you respond to them will determine your growth and development as a leader.

Leader-Leadee is a blog dedicated to leadership development. Share and learn from Jonathan Alan’s experiences through his free articles!


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