Leading with Impact – Leadership is Lonely

I know that sounds odd. But it is often true. Leading any organization is not a popularity contest and sometimes leaders need to do things that really make them realize how alone they are. I feel this myself as a leader of our company. When we need to make a really tough decision, I look around and realize there really is no one else. I need to do this thing.

I was thinking this thought when I met with a senior client. This leader has a very difficult decision to make. He needs to take some really important and difficult action. The decision will impact many people in the company – some positively and some not. Most people in the company know he needs to take this action and most people want the action to happen now.

But now is not the time for this particular decision, for many good reasons. Some of these reasons are things he is not at liberty to share. And that can feel lonely at times for a leader.

And this leader can’t rely on anyone else to help him with this. He can’t tell anyone, “I know what you want me to do. I’ll do it later.” People may ask, “Why isn’t he doing this obvious thing?” Friends and colleagues will offer feedback, “Just do this thing and everyone will be happy, confident, whatever they see as the benefit….”

Really effective leaders know not only what needs to be done, they also have an impeccable sense of timing. They know exactly when to take action and when to wait. They know that the right timing is as important as the right decision.

As a leader, you have to do what is best for the organization. If you try and cover all the bases, explain everything, tell everyone about future tough decisions, you make yourself look good but you do not help the organization.

If you are a great leader, your timing is impeccable but it’s lonely at times. When you take action, everyone finally understands (or maybe not). Afterall, leadership is not a popularity contest.

You might be interested in how to develop your ability to make quality decisions. If so, I will address that next week. Stay tuned.

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