I have learnt some useful leadership lessons the hard way that I’m going to share with you.
They will surely help you to survive and thrive whether you are a paid worker or you are your own boss.
Some of these leadership lessons come fast and easy. But many don’t.
Some take a long time in coming by which time you will have made very costly mistakes only you will regret.
But what matters most of all is that you should be in a position to take all the lessons in their stride and forge manfully ahead.
1. Leadership is teamwork.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having your own style, however unconventional it might be.
But the moment you choose to lead a community of people, you will have to learn to work with the team.
Whatever you say or do must be a reflection of the team’s collective stance. It must be what the whole team can flow along with.
There is bound to be disaster if you and your team are always saying or doing totally opposite things.
2. The system can be a friend or an enemy.
You must learn and understand the way the system within which you are operating works.
This has got so much to do with government departments, agencies and other local or state institutions.
Are there any rules and standards? What are the rules? Are those rules working or they are just there to provide a cover for underhand dealings?
What is the culture of integrity like? Are you willing to conform to a culture of corrupton? Would you rather you found your own way of moving on with integrity?
What are others doing? Do their actions and utterances agree with your personal values? If not, how will you strategize to continue to thrive without compromising your principles?
Make sure you find definite answers to these questions. As a leader, you cannot remain ignorant of what goes on around you. And you cannot remain neutral too.
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3. Many of the challenges are an insider job.
There is a saying in the Twi language of Ghana, the country of my birth. Translated literally, it goes like: The insect that will bite you is the one hiding inside your own clothing.
The point being made here is a leader must never be too trusting of those around them.
Sometimes, openly self-declared enemies are better than the hypocrites and sycophants that surround you. Beware!
4. You can never please everyone.
It does not matter how much you believe in the soundness of your decisions or policies. Your good intentions may not even count.
Once you find yourself in any leadership position, you will have to learn to live with difficult-to-please individuals and groups.
Some will have genuine opposing positions on specific issues. But there are some who are just predisposed to not seeing anything good in whatever you do or say.
The day you can pay little attention to the second group while making conscious efforts to accommodate constructive criticism or find a middle ground with the first, is the day you can make meaningful progress as a leader.
To be a leader isn’t an easy calling. Cool-headed humility which allows for the consideration of the feelings and views of others, willingness to learn to work within established institutions and conventions, as well as the ability to tell your true, loyal lieutenants from the dangerous snakes that smile in your face are the keys to succeeding as a leader.
Take the above leadership lessons seriously as you make the decision of a lifetime to move into self-employment or to aspire to a leadership position at your workplace or in your community..