3 Reasons it’s hard to learn leadership

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Leadership isn’t easy. It involves people and constantly changing situations. Learning to lead is hard, too Most new leaders take a year or two just to learn the basics. Then they spend another decade mastering the craft and the rest of their lives getting better. Here are three reasons it’s hard to learn to lead.

Learning to lead is hard because you can’t learn it from books

Leadership isn’t a subject like history or math. Leadership is more like swimming or dancing. It’s a doing discipline, where the learning and doing intertwine.

That means you won’t be able to plan the error out of your performance. You and the people around you will make mistakes, right there in public.

Embrace that if you want to learn to lead. Recognize that your most important learning and most rapid growth will often come from the most difficult situations.

Learning to lead is hard because a lot of what great leaders do doesn’t look like “Leadership”

All those romantic stories about great leaders and great leadership feats obscure an important fact. What most great leaders most of the time do isn’t heroic.

Great leaders know it’s much more effective to prevent a crisis than it is to rush to the rescue. That’s why great leaders show up a lot and have lots of conversations with people. They set clear expectations and a high bar for performance. Then leaders communicate with unremitting diligence and religiously model the behavior they expect.

Learning to lead is hard because it’s mostly about making yourself worth following

Make yourself worth following if you want to be a great leader. Get feedback on how you’re doing. Reflect on your performance and how you can improve next time

Read books and go to classes to get ideas of things to try. Then try them, analyze how you did, and keep improving. If you want to be a great leader, you can’t take a day off, either. Learning to lead is a lifelong race with no finish line.

Bottom Line

Learning to lead is hard. You can’t learn to lead from books, you can only learn to lead by leading and that means making mistakes. You must forget the romantic ideas of heroic leadership and learn the mundane tasks great leaders do every day. If you aspire to great leadership, you must strive every day to make yourself worthy to be followed.

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