Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Do you reall want to be a leader?

Most of the time I sit back and think of my career goals in terms of people in my organization above me.  As I get closer to those roles, I start to get a view into what it really takes to have those types of jobs and the trade-offs of moving upward.  This WSJ article entitled Do You Really Want to Be a Leader? nails the intensity and emotional investment associated with those roles:
To reach higher office and to fulfill its obligations, you must continuously make choices that will affect other people’s money and lives. And you will be doing this in a context where other people will want your position or will be competing with you for the next higher position.

First off, I think you have to give more of yourself in those roles, and let's face it - we're finite resources.  What I give to my job in terms of mind-share, my time, my energy, my emotions - really my soul, is something I'm not giving to my family, my friends, my youth group.

Secondly, it's competitive. There's definitely a weeding out that happens as you move up the ladder and what might have differentiated you at one level doesn't stand out at the next level up.   What got you to where you were, won't get you to the next level, and I've found that I have to constantly be willing to adjust what I do and how I do it, and step back and figure out what's working and not:
Leadership certainly requires business smarts, technical capabilities and cultural sensibilities, but above all, it is about power. While this point is upsetting to some people, the brutal reality is that whatever else a leader must do, a leader must gain, exercise and retain power. We meet too many “high potentials” who aspire to high leadership but are used to receiving rewards for being bright and creative. This breeds a sense of entitlement that is incompatible with the necessity to fight for leadership power.
I've watched some pretty impressive leaders in my organization that have made huge trade-offs in their life to have the position that they're in.  They've got huge pay-checks and huge amounts of power, but the trade-offs they've made in terms of their family life and other areas, in my opinion, aren't worth it.  I've wondered just how far I could go if I poured every part of myself into my job.  Don't get me wrong, my life would be miserable, but thinking about willing the 'one thing' is interesting.  I attribute part of the reason I've been successful in my jobs to the fact that I have a life and a soul that isn't just about work, is full and I think that's given me an edge.

I guess Jesus might have known what he was talking about when he said this:
What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for? - Mark 8:36

1 comment:

Sarah said...

This could not have come at a better time for me to read. Thanks!