Leading is often painful

People learn more from watching how we live out our leadership than from what we say. What we give off, is what we get back. Our team will learn to adopt our beliefs and then mirror them back to us.

If you show up stressed out each day, it won’t be long before others on your team start showing up stressed out. If you are consistently behind schedule, it won’t be long before your team is consistently behind schedule. If you talk about other team members behind their backs, it won’t be long before your team members are talking about you behind yours.

As a leader, your words and actions are contagious.

Part of leading is learning to do away with your personal preferences and feelings in exchange for what sets the best example for your team. Leading means setting your schedule and priorities aside for your team when necessary.

Leading means being willing to have difficult conversations. Conversations you’d rather avoid. Conversations that make you, and the person you lead uncomfortable, but are necessary for their growth.

Leaders ask. Managers tell. Leading means guiding your team to find the answer instead of giving it to them. Teaching them how to solve problems, not showing them the solutions.

Leading means leaning. As a leader, you will have to lean into your weaknesses on a regular basis. Lean into them enough that your weaknesses are no longer stumbling blocks. Leaning into your weaknesses often means doing things you don’t like and aren’t (currently) good at.

Leading is often painful.

Watching your child learn to ride a bike is painful. Painful for you. Painful for your child. It’s painful to watch your child wipeout and stand up bleeding. But the pain is required, so the training wheels can come off.

Leading is similarly painful. It’s painful to watch your team member fail when you know you could have stepped in and prevented it. The goal isn’t to celebrate the failure, but to celebrate their attempt to try something new or challenging.

Lead with your language.

As leaders we must be careful with our language. Language is declarative. Our language reveals our beliefs. Our beliefs expose our values. Our values create our culture. And our culture creates our future. But as we know, language is more than the words that come out of our mouths. Language includes our non-verbal cues and the energy we bring with us to work each day.

At the end of the day, we as leaders must be aware of the implications of every word we say and action we take. It matters.