What makes being a leader extremely painful at times?

Nothing comes easy in life, that too for people who have bigger dreams and zeal to achieve extraordinary heights, it seems to be the toughest.

Being in the media industry I always looked for myself in higher confidence and position every year, and in many ways, it happened the way I expected. I crossed the first decade of struggle, and my position now is striving towards the next level of achievements.

I was/am an introvert. Socially awkward and most importantly totally unfit for the position like leadership. Many people challenged me with these statements to which I accepted. But my dream and reality had to align. The result, I became day-shift desk coordinator in my first media job. I had to look after hourly and prime bulletins, news anchors, field reporters etc. Back then, there were 5/6 people whose works I had to handle.

That was the phase when my media journey had started, I had huge enthusiasm. Maybe that was the reason, I did not panic more. Maybe it’s been years and my current situations have faded those memories so now, I find those moments less troubling. Maybe my fame (back then) compensated the resentment of every difficulty I faced. There could be many reasons. But struggles were there. Among all these, one thing was for sure, that time helped me grow as a professional who at least makes sure I am strong in following basics. And at least enhance my dignity to move towards where I wanted to reach.

My journey kept going. There came another phase where I happened to look after a small team (of just three). I was more like performer and manager, I had to work more and manage people less. I had great time scripting, editing news, video editing, packaging etc. I enjoyed the job a lot. That lasted for two years and I had to leave the position.

Then there was the time waiting for me to be in the position of active manager. It was not at all easy for me to take it up. Not at all easy for people like me who think twice before talking to anybody, for people who keep on thinking about others’ reactions and responses, for people who just enjoy being alone because of some real odd likes and dislikes. But I had to challenge myself to take up the position crossing all comfort corners because that was the right thing to do. That was not what I wanted but that was the right thing I knew.

Leadership is an attitude, there’s no formula for it. Being a leader, one has to give the tests of their values and virtues, not every day, but every minute. You are being judged every minute, by your team members, by management and most importantly, by the hypothetical ‘perfect version of you’ that exists in you 24 hours a day. Being a leader, you are chained by not only the shackles of judgments but the expectations, internally and externally.

Perfect leadership is a myth. Even great leaders in history are blamed for being bad role models. It’s a subjective thing. One fact which is acceptable by all is: Living perfectly upto the expectations of everyone around is just impossible. You can’t make everyone happy. You CAN’t. You see the reality: many times, you can’t please even your inner self. More than that, there are people who scold GOD (topmost leader) and do not accept His existence. Sad. Isn’t it?

Let me come to the point that headline stated, what makes being a leader extremely painful at times. For better readability, I have listed out the pointers:

A) Wasted efforts of making yourself and your team members happy

Steve Jobs had said: If you want to make everyone happy, don’t be a leader, go and sell ice cream. But when you are in routined works, you are all the time thinking about making your team members happy because you know they are the ones that get your team’s jobs done, without them, you are nothing. At times, you end up compromising with your decisions, you end up listening to their excuses and you end up spoiling your day because many time, you make yourself unhappy with all these.

B) Balance between law and love

You are in a leadership position and that demands you being tough to your team whenever needed to get things done. But you have always had that subtle fear inside, that hints, if you make your team members uneasy or unhappy, they will stop loving you or respecting you.

C) The struggle between being respected and being followed

Being a leader, you always want the real respect from your team members. At the same time, you want them to follow some unwritten rules that you have set in your circle. Since, following rules and being happy about it cannot go hand in hand all the time, it creates resentment in both the parties.

D) Never ending pieces of advice from others

We human beings always see others’ job cake walk and do not hesitate in suggesting to others what to do and what not to do. We often fail to accept the fact that no position is easy to handle, that too when the position — is handling a bunch of people with diverse attitude, abilities and qualities.

E) Making your people understand about the importance of values over skills

There are many people from the past who we remember for their skill/talent. And then there are many people from the same era who we respect for their values they inculcated in their entire life. Skillset makes you remembered and appreciated, values make you respected. These are two important aspects of a completed human existence.

But very less of young millennials accept this reality. It’s hard to make young people understand that ‘being punctual and humble is as important as hitting targets’.

F) Lack of proactiveness in members

It’s always great to work with positive, proactive and responsive people. Leaders are also learners, they also need motivation, they also need positive energy around. When a leader sees these things not happening very often, it’s a sad feeling for them. Energy should flow both ways.

G) Risked mental peace

Once our CEO said, works are done not by assigning but by following up. That totally makes sense but when a manager or leader seems taking follow-ups for the times as equal as the number of people in her/his team, then, it’s a huge disappointment. It may get a person’s peace of mind spoiled.

But besides all these, a leader should not expect that things will always (or should) happen the way they want/think. The real job of a leader is, making things happen, no matter what the situations are. Winning over every difficulty, challenge and discomfort is the real win and those who understand it well, are the real influencers.

Feel free to share your thoughts, opinions or story in the comment section.

Note: The article was originally published on Medium.