When you got the message that you were being promoted into a leadership position, I’d guess you were excited. Promotions usually mean more prestige, more opportunities, and more money. People congratulate you, offer to buy you lunch, and your picture appears in the company newsletter. Good news all the way around.
Then there’s the reality. Tasks are dumped on your desk with little or no explanation attached. People are clamoring for your time and attention. Meetings on subjects you’ve never heard of fill your schedule. Those who report to you expect you to solve their problems, resolve their conflicts, and even deliver feedback messages they’re too afraid to deliver themselves. It’s time to think about your feelings.
Leadership is more than a skill set. Real leadership is a combination of well-honed skills combined with an open and gracious spirit. How you feel about being a leader will always influence how you act as a leader. People who believe that leadership is their right, who believe that their title demands the respect of others, or who believe that leaders should always have the final say are carrying feelings about leadership that will constantly get in the way of their effectiveness as a leader. Closemindedness is usually a result of an unwillingness to explore the feeling side of an issue. How are you at exploring your feelings about being a leader?
It’s perfectly okay to have conflicting emotions about being a leader. Excitement mixed with apprehension. Confidence colored by fear. Certainty alongside doubt. Pride with anger. It’s not about either/or, it’s about and. Leaders who identify all the emotions that can go along with leadership, study the full range of those emotions, and learn to tap into the appropriate emotion for the right situation are ahead of the game. Leaders who try to convince themselves that dealing with emotions (their own as well as those of others) isn’t part of their job are just kidding themselves.
So, how do you feel about being a leader? Like the previous question, your answer to this question will change with time and experience. In this case, feelings being what they are, your answer might be different from one minute to the next. That’s not the big problem. Understanding how your feelings at any given time are influencing your behavior is one of the greatest challenges of leadership. Without an honest, routine check of your feelings about leadership, you shortchange yourself as well as the people who follow you.