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Leadership; the harder choice

To paraphrase Dolly Parton; ‘sometimes its hard to be a leader’.

Like the times when you know that it would just be easier to tell someone what to do but you know that in the longer term, coaching them through to the result will be a win-win (they learn and you don’t have to tell them again).

Like the times when your team say that they don’t really need to clearly define their purpose or mission or team values because ‘we all know what we are doing’. So it would be so much easier to just write down what you think and to tell them that answer, but you know that in the longer term its the discussion that the team has that generates a higher level of understanding and a greater sense of team. Which are the whole point of having purpose/ mission/ values after all.

Like the times when two of your staff are just not seeing eye to eye and that is causing disruption to the rest of the team.  When it would be so easy to point out their faults to both of them, tell them to ‘pull their heads in’ and ‘get on with their work’. But you know that would probably make you the problem, as both wouldn’t like hearing it, nobody likes being told off and the issue would just simmer under the surface.

Like the times when someone is not meeting a deadline or delivering the result they promised, and it would be so easy to tell them ‘I will do it’ but you know all that means is another late night or lost weekend and they will still not be able to deliver the next time.

Like the times when your boss has tightened the deadline for the budget review and the easiest thing to do would be to tell your team that their one to ones had been cancelled, but you know that your engagement  with them as a manager depends on these sessions.

Like the times when you know you should really sit down and give someone feedback on their poor performance, but its just easier to tell them that they are ‘doing fine’ and pass on the harder pieces of work to that willing worker you have. After all ‘you can deal with the problem during a restructuring when that next comes around cant you?’, even though you know that everyone knows you are not managing the problem, that the willing worker will gradually become less willing and your stock as a leader will go down.

Like the times of uncertainty, when the organisation is going through change and you know that someone in your team is losing their role, so you get HR to manage the conversations so that you can get on with the ‘ work that needs done with the people that you need to do it’, even though deep down you know that the way you act towards that person will tell everyone that stays behind how you really value people and would treat them if they were to go.

The joy of leadership lies in chosing to do all those things that are hard at the time, and seeing the outcome of those choices come to fruition months later.

So when you look at it that way, being a leader is only as hard as you want to make it.


  1. Great post, thanks – will repost!

    Comment by Sam Young — August 1, 2013 at 08:33

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