Toughest part of leadership

I surfed the ‘net today looking for answers to this question:

“What is the toughest aspect of leadership?”

Not surprisingly, I found a lot of answers.  Examples:

  • Making decisions
  • Looking at yourself honestly
  • Dealing with conflict
  • Building a culture
  • Taking action when you “don’t know”
  • Dealing with negative employees
  • Letting go and delegating
  • Being consistently positive

But here’s my favorite. It comes from a college basketball coach named Kevin Eastman:

  • The hardest part of leadership is this:  you must be able to tell the truth.

Amen, Kevin. I agree wholeheartedly. The ability to speak the truth is a rare quality. It involves risk.  It invites conflict.  It often incites passionate response.  For all these reasons, it takes tremendous courage.

Like so many other aspects of leadership, telling the truth puts you “out there” in an exposed place – on the proverbial limb where all you can hang onto is a fierce belief in your instincts, your convictions, your intellect, and your openness to being influenced by the perspectives of others.

Telling the truth also creates tremendous potential for growth – for you, for your relationships, and for your organization.

For a perspective on how to tell the truth effectively, visit my business partner Steve’s post of a few weeks ago.  And next week in this space, Steve will offer some practical tips on planning a conversation in which you’re called upon to speak a challenging truth.

YOUR PATH FORWARD: As you go through the rest of your day today or tomorrow, monitor how aligned your words are with your convictions.  Are you couching?  Hedging?  Not being as straightforward as you could for fear of … what — not being able to tell the truth effectively?

Or, on the other hand, do you tell the truth too bluntly, not assessing how it’s landing on the recipient – not assessing whether the way they hear it motivates them in a positive way?

And now that you’ve read what I think, tell us what you think …

About the Author

Jim Hessler
Jim Hessler bootstrapped his way from retail work into a successful career as salesman, sales manager, Fortune 500 executive, and corporate turnaround engineer. Along the way, he developed The Leadership Platform, a proven model for training managers to become sustainably better leaders. It became the basis of his leadership primer, Land On Your Feet, Not On Your Face: A Guild to Building Your Leadership Platform. Jim is the founder of Path Forward Leadership Development Services.

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