Leadership is lonely ….
Today, I had the privilege to once again share my leadership journey with students from the Hwa Chong Ong Teng Cheong Leadership Certification Programme.
During the sharing, I was asked to explain my comment that leadership is lonely. I replied that leaders often have to make choices involving trade-offs and, as it is impossible to please everyone, leaders who are concerned about being liked will very likely not be effective leaders as they will be unable to make the necessary hard decisions.
In my career, I have had the opportunity to observe firsthand how people in power operate. I noticed that these leaders often have an inner circle of advisers. As these advisers have the leaders’ ear, these advisers hold significant influence over the decisions that the leader makes. Given that it is impossible for a leader to know everything, leaders need to rely on advisers to make sound and timely decisions.
There is however danger when the advisers act in their own self-interest. Leaders should therefore strive to be accessible to a broad range of people and not limit inputs to a select few. And, even as the leaders trust their advisers, it is important that leaders also verify the information provided by their advisers.
To me, leadership is a calling. You must believe in what you are doing to be an effective leader.