5 Truths About Leadership You Won't Find on Facebook

Yes, I understand that Facebook and social media, in general, puts the happiest face on all things personal and professional. Still, it irks me to see endless posts about the money habits of millionaires, how to earn seven figures with one webinar, and the only three things all leaders do to be successful. I get the “5 x to y” formula works – I’ve used it myself in this and many posts. How I try to be different is to show that the concepts we see in social media are more complex that they first appear. With that in mind, let me count down the 5 Truths about Leadership You Won’t Find on Facebook.

Truth #5: Leadership is Hard

Leadership is a combination of who you are, what you do, what you know, who you know, and more. There are infinite combinations of ways to be successful, so be wary of cookie-cutter leadership advice. There are, of course, best practices – or what I prefer to call “human practices” in leadership that can inform and guide your journey. The one thing that all the advice, tips, and guidance have in common is that leadership is not for the faint of heart. Being a leader can be lonely: you get little feedback, your energy will be drawn by those you lead, and you’ll have to find ways and time to recharge. One of my favorite books on the topic is Resonant Leadership.

Truth #4: Leadership is built on Trust

Have you watched any competition based reality shows? There is always one character that says, “I’m not here to make friends, I’m here to win.” Invariably, that character crashes and burns in competition. Why? Because there are always other people involved: contestants, judges, sponsors, and the viewing audience. The same dynamic is true in business settings. I’ve heard people in titles of power say, “I’m not here to make friends; I’m here to increase our stock price (become #1 in the industry, turn the business around, put your choice here.) These presidents or CEOs might make changes, but they are not leading. Just like customers buy from people and companies they trust, employees follow leaders they trust. It’s a strange dichotomy that leaders feel isolated and yet need to make connections with people. Stay connected with your team throughout each project and annual cycle. One way to structure your coaching throughout the year is to Develop Triple Sight and earn the trust and respect of your team.

Truth #3: It’s about Pull, Not Push

The leader’s goal is for people to follow you into an inspiring vision of success. If you’re pushing your company, your team, toward that vision, then I’d venture to state your vision does not include them. Regardless of your formal position in the organization, you can create a vision for success that lights a fire in the people you need to make that success a reality.

That’s right, you NEED people to lead. Not only do you need them to follow you – you need them to BELIEVE in the vision.

You need them to participate willingly. Remind your team about the greater purpose of their jobs on a regular basis. Is the underwriter filling out paperwork or is he/she protecting an entrepreneur’s dream by ensuring they have the right insurance? Which version of the job would pull you out of bed in the morning?

Truth #2: You Can Never Stop Learning

Remember the first truth where I mentioned you would get less feedback as a leader? To continue to be of value to your team, you must seek out feedback, and more. I was horrified to read a fact in a workplace study (forgive me, I can’t find the source…if you know it please comment). The study showed many in upper management, who are assumed to be leaders, spend more time asking their direct reports to help them with their work than they do coaching and building the skills of their team. I’ve heard the often repeated advice, “To get ahead in the organization – make your boss look good.” While this advice might work for office politics, it’s not what leadership is about. Leaders build and grow the skills of their team so the whole can be greater than any individual. To do this, we must seek to become more emotionally intelligent leaders and be lifelong learners. If we don’t fill our cups with new awareness and knowledge, how will we fill the cups of our team?

Truth #1: Leadership is a Choice

Every day you must choose to be a leader. Some may not, and that’s okay. Pursuing a path of leadership is a calling. Yes, some people come by the skills naturally, and other have to work hard at it. Research and practice have proven that you CAN learn to lead. With that said, why don’t more people with a title that requires leadership have the skills or the passion? Simple, you can bestow titles, but you can’t convince someone to choose the often difficult, always dynamic, frequently transformative, role of leader.

Do you want to be a leader? Then choose to lead--every day.