Leadership sucks! I always wanted to climb the corporate ladder when I was a young banker. I wanted to climb the industry ladder when I was telecom executive. I always wanted more – more size, more importance, and more impact. I focused on the power and influence I had and – it was great. Or was it?

Upon reflection, leadership is hard. Everyone I lead is looking to me to model my stated values and the company’s core values. I have an obligation to do things for the benefit of others. And not just their financial benefit. As I grew up (e.g., threw less temper tantrums and thought longer term), and woke up (e.g., stopped thinking in terms of ME all the time), I started to understand what was meant by “Servant Leadership.” That’s when leadership really started to suck.

Effective leadership tools

I realized that I can’t keep being a bully, controlling my team and using people to either make me look good or be more successful. If I wanted to be at integrity with my core values, every day I had to ask myself, “What do these people, with whom some mystery has placed me into stewardship of, need and what is it about my thoughts and behaviors that will allow them to meet these needs?”

Think about it. As a leader, I get to be projected on (both the good and the bad stuff, most of which is not accurate). I get to make others unhappy as I challenge them with direct feedback in order to help them grow. I have to step into the limelight when I don’t want to, and out of it when I don’t want to. And, as a leader, this all stuff that I get to do alone!

No wonder most people choose to be a boss instead of a leader. Bosses can turn to their team and tell them it’s their fault things aren’t going well. Bosses intimidate and threaten others to get things done. Bosses can step into and out of the limelight when it fits their needs. Bosses always eat well.

I definitely would rather be a boss. What’s your truth on the matter? Would you rather be a boss or a leader?