Becoming a leader is the dream of many. You want to be heard, to have people agree with you and follow your lead. But getting there is not just a question of natural talent. It is a matter of sacrifice.
No pain, no gain, they say, and there is no difference when it comes to leadership. There will be tough things that you will have to do and change in yourself if you want to get there.
Here are seven ways to prepare for the journey.
Manage Your Personal Time
When you are a leader, you need to make time for all the other people in need. They will call you, follow you on social media, contact you in any possible way because they want to hear your opinion about virtually everything.
As you became a leader by choice, you won’t have the right to complain. You will stop whatever you are doing, even if it is something that you really enjoy, and be there for them as often as necessary.
Have in mind that you won’t be allowed to rush away, as it is your duty as a leader to make time for your followers. Refusing to comply can damage your reputation in an irreversible way – just think about all those artists who avoid fans and the bad press that comes from it.
Extinguish Your Bad Habits
As a leader, you will be a role model. People will look up to you and will copy your habits and ideas. Anything that you don’t love about your behaviour will have to be fixed as soon as possible unless you want to get in trouble later on.
Procrastination will have to be in the past, along with self-indulgence and lack of discipline. It will become necessary to be at your best all the time, including when you are just having fun, as you never know when you will meet one of your followers.
And considering that everybody has a camera on their hands nowadays, you know what could be the end of it.
Check Your Ego
It seems to be contradictory to many people, but a real leader isn’t a vain and egotistical person. Nobody listens or follows this kind of person except out of fear. That is the difference between a leader and a dictator.
Remember to check your ego every time that you need to use your leadership skills. Be ready for criticism, because many people think that the best way to become your best friend is by bringing your mistakes to your attention just in case you aren’t aware of them.
Also, be prepared to serve and to work to make other people’s lives better instead of yours. In theory, they think that your life is already perfect anyway. Bear in mind that your needs come in second place.
Eliminate Your Pre-Conceptions
Your pre-conceptions are another thing that you will have to sacrifice to become a leader. If you think that you already know everything, you will stop learning, and soon all your ideas will become obsolete.
Plus, you will find hard to relate and support people, if you dislike some of them due to some hidden prejudice of any kind. If you discover that you have any of these feelings within yourself, you should look for a way to change your mind as soon as possible.
Adjust your mind to be flexible and to understand that, even though you have your own principles and values, some people might feel things differently. There is nothing wrong with that. As a leader, you can’t be asking them to change their beliefs only with the purpose of agreeing with you.
Manage Your Finances
It isn’t cheap to be a leader. It costs money to stay updated about your industry, to keep up with the trends, and to acquire new skills.
There will be congresses, conferences, and seminars to go, and they aren’t cheap. There will be accommodations, food, flights, and many more expenses to be paid as well.
Depending on your line of work, clothing may be another hit in your pocket. You will also possibly want new productivity-enhancing gadgets and apps. These costs will remain with you forever, as you will always need to be one step ahead of the majority in terms of innovation.
Open Your Ears
Sometimes, people don’t want any advice. They just want to be listened to. There is nothing better than to be listened to by someone who is seen as a leader. People are relieved; it is like a certification that they aren’t going mad, that their troubles are worthy.
You should be prepared to sacrifice your ear for the happiness of your followers. Be prepared to invest in your listening skills and to be the best at listening.
Remember that listening is not the same as hearing. People can easily spot if you are just pretending to give attention to them. It is not as hard as you think, even if they don’t know you well.
If this isn’t among your strengths, don’t despair. Start training yourself not to get impatient and to ask encouraging questions. It will pay off as soon as you start doing it.
Don’t Abuse Your Authority
Another misconception is that a leader is always obeyed, that people will hear you and do as they were told. This couldn’t be more wrong.
It is understandable if you feel frustrated after spending hours talking someone out of a bad move, and they end up doing it anyway. You were well prepared and made a point of using your time to see trends and predict failures. They came to you in the first place, so why didn’t they follow your ideas?
The thing is that you are their leader, not their parent. They are adults fully capable of making their own decisions.
Plus, they have all the right to make mistakes and learn from them – you probably have learned a lot from your mistakes, so why take the same opportunity away from them?
Remember that you work within limits decided by your followers, not by you.
The Bottom Line
Leadership has nothing to do with achieving a perfect life. There is a lot that you will have to sacrifice in order to get there, and the imperative to sacrifice won’t go away when you achieve the position you have been dreaming of.
Be prepared to understand that there will be sacrifices to be made and that they are only part of the game. This is only normal, and you should be proud of being able to overcome these small challenges in order to lead others to greater goals.