Periodically over the last year or so, I’ve been thinking about leadership. I have managed to divest myself of two leadership positions which I had found unduly burdensome. Both positions I had been asked to step into because I seemed the right sort of person. Both ended up draining me tremendously.
The obvious conclusion seemed to be that I am just not much of leader.
But then I recognise that there are several other situations where I am clearly the leader, although there is no formal title. In these situations I lead because I can’t help myself. I am passionate about the outcome and I have significant experience in the area.
So, it turns out that I have two qualitatively different experiences of leadership. In the first case, where it is a role I have taken on, I found it to be a tremendous emotional burden. That burden far outweighs the nature of the task!! But when I lead because it is a necessary part of my being in that dynamic I don’t feel the same burden.
In the latter case, the emotional tax is associated with the occasional complexity of tasks associated leadership, not with the role itself. I think part of the emotional burden of leadership which has been thrust upon me is the desire to perform to the satisfaction of those who have asked me to step up.
It is an interesting and slightly painful insight. Surely, by now, I should be free of the need to please others or impress others? Apparently not!
More importantly, it gives me a crucial point of discernment – am I taking this on because it is the right thing to do, or am I taking it on because I want to be seen to be capable or helpful or whatever else. If it is the latter I should probably steer clear until I have found my interior freedom.