The truth behind leadership
I’ve always been a natural leader. For many people, being a leader is the cuspid of merit. To be followed, to be loved, to yield power over others. I’ve never seen it like that. Quite the opposite. Sometimes I’ve even seen it as a curse, instead of as a much-desired blessing.
I didn’t engineer being a leader. It’s something that just happens to me. Since I was little, I was always the focus of all attention. I hated it. I’m not a shy person by any stretch, but I don’t like the spotlight either.
The truth though, is that I’ve been a trailblazer all my life. People would just sit down, listen, join and follow. I’ve always found it a little uncanny. I tried to convince people not to follow me, that I wasn’t trying to impose my views or anything like that. It didn’t work.
Sometimes I tried not to be noticed. I would just sit down and listen. I wouldn’t open my mouth for any reason. It didn’t work either. The moment the teacher asked a question, they would look at me and wait for an answer. Then all the class would look up to me as the one with an answer to anything.
Being a leader is very tough. Everyone sees the power of influence you can yield, but few stop to think about the personal cost of leadership in the actual person.
It puts so much responsibility on you that it’s hard not to drink your own cool aid.
It’s rough. It’s lonely. It completely isolates you from the rest of the crowd. The people around you will start treating you differently. They’ll look up to you. The will defer to you. They’ll think everything you do is right. And that’s the drama. It puts so much responsibility on you that it’s hard not to drink your own cool aid.
Sometimes you don’t have an answer; Sometimes there is no answer.
And you are alone. You feel the weight. You have to be wise and make sure you’re doing the best for the people you’re leading. Sometimes you don’t have an answer; Sometimes there is no answer. So you improvise, you imagine, you push yourself to do your best. And maybe the worst part is that you can’t ask anyone for help. There is no one, even your friends or people close to you will defer to you. You’re the inspiring one, how can they help you?
It took me a while to understand why people followed me. It all came down to storytelling. I’ve always been a natural born storyteller. When you tell stories, especially personal ones, you let people into your world. If done with passion, it opens a window into your emotions, your feelings, and your values. I started to see that it was that candor and that vulnerability that attracted people. They could touch my values, my soul, and my experience. There was nothing to hide so they could trust me. I laid naked in front of them. No hidden agendas, no secret past.
But it’s not only that; it’s seeing that whatever you do, your people always go first. No matter what.
The key here is trust. The more you share, the more you open up, the more people believe in you. The more you show people they can trust you, the bigger the leadership. But it’s not only that; it’s seeing that whatever you do, your people always go first. No matter what. It’s seeing you have ethical values and experiencing first hand the consistency of them.
It’s not sufficient to be good sometimes. It’s not enough to take care of someone at some point.
I bring up the notion of consistency because it’s one thing that I feel many people ignore. It’s not sufficient to be good sometimes. It’s not enough to take care of someone at some point. It’s about helping and guiding and building bridges always. There are times you’re not ok, but you still help out.
Consistency in your values is what makes people follow you. It increases the amount of trust. People can then predict what will you do when confronted with a difficult situation. They’ll forgive you if you fuck up, and they’ll even cheer you up and push you to be a better human being. While it’s true being a leader is lonely, if there is trust, your people will take care of you. You can rely on them; they will respond, protect and heal you.
There are times everything makes so much sense, and it’s so worth it.
Even though I’m focusing on the hidden part of leadership, I have to confess; there are amazing moments. There are times everything makes so much sense, and it’s so worth it. That time when someone comes up to you to tell you that you changed their life, to tell you that they got out of a dark place thanks to your words. Or those moments where you inspire people to take control of their lives, to grow to be better people.
Being you, living your values and being able to touch the people around you is the most beautiful gift anyone can have.
My gift is within my words. As an extrovert, my interactions, my stories, and my acts inspire those around me. But I’ve also met inspiring introverts. They’re quieter, less high profile, shy and not public. Nevertheless, they encourage those around, they touch you, they create unbreakable trust bonds, and they mark you for life. They might not be that well known or given credit for, but they change people’s lives just as much as extroverts.
You could even argue that they might go deeper than extroverts. To the point they tend to burn themselves, to consume all their life living it for others; taking care of others, instead of themselves.
They live for and by others, and they deserve to be loved back not for their feats, but for the person behind the mask.
So next time you find an inspiring person, someone that touches you, get close to them and hug them. If they’re introverts, even better. Walk to them and thank them with all your heart. They live for and by others, and they deserve to be loved back not for their feats, but for the person behind the mask.