Hardly anyone says this, but it’s important. You can aspire to leadership for all the right reasons. You can master catalogs full of specific techniques. You can have the best coaches and the best mentors. But if you don’t love the work of leadership, you won’t be a success and your life will be miserable.
If You Don’t Love the Work, Things Will Go Badly
If you don’t love the work, every day will be hard. You may find yourself lying in bed in the morning dreading the need to get up and go to work.
If you don’t love the work, you won’t get in the flow often. You’ll have to think about and rationalize everything you must do.
If you don’t love the work, you need lots of recovery time. But there’s a catch. If you don’t love the work, you won’t be very efficient, and you’ll probably need more work time.
If you don’t love the work, you won’t seek out opportunities to learn. Oh, sure, you may set some learning goals. But you won’t naturally and automatically seek out opportunities to learn from experience, from courses, and from others.
How to Find Out If You Love the Work
If you’re thinking about leadership, you need to find out if you will love the work. How do you do that?
You can analyze whether parts of the work are things you enjoy. Do you like helping others succeed? Are you comfortable stepping back and letting the team be your destiny? Do you (not do you think you can) confront others about performance and behavior issues? Do you make decisions easily and then live with them?
Doing an analysis will help you. If you can’t answer “yes” to those core components of what leaders do every day, leadership may not be for you. If you answer yes, then the best thing to do is to try on the role.
There are lots of ways to try on the role. You can take a temporary assignment leading a project team or task force. You can take on a leadership role in a community or nonprofit organization.
Beware! It’s easy to fool yourself into believing that you will do all these things naturally and joyfully.
Great leaders enjoy what they do and do it well. This is not something you think through and decide. It’s something you discover about yourself.
You will not be the kind of leader you want to be unless you love the work. Before you accept a move to leadership, analyze yourself and what drives you. If the work of leadership will be something you do easily and well, you will probably love the work. If not, not.