“It gets easier the closer to the top you get”
I have heard many different variations of this perspective over the years. I have heard peers express their longing to be the CEO so they can make lots of money and not have to work hard. I have heard leaders joke about the hard day they just put in at the golf course. I have heard people of all socioeconomic levels make assumptions about a leader’s lack of work ethic, simply because they are a leader.
I find every one of these perspectives to be rather frustrating.
Aspiring to have power so you don’t have to work hard
I believe that many individuals who set out to accomplish this often succeed. I also believe that when this happens, the rest of us are worse off for it. Especially the people who have to follow that leader. To really embody this perspective you have to be ok with taking advantage of the people who have been entrusted to your leadership.
I believe that if you aspire to a position of leadership (which is what top end management is), you have a responsibility to serve your team. Not the other way around. Aspiring leaders should work to serve their team today and plan to serve them tomorrow.
Assuming all leaders are lazy
I aspire to obtain more power in the future than I currently have today. People often cringe when I say this. They assume I am saying I want to increase the number of people I have control over. This is not the case.
If power is the ability of one person to influence another, then I aspire to influence many people. I aspire to serve many people. I aspire to have a position of power so that I can positively impact a greater number of people than I could without that power.
Here is the catch. Power can be used to help those we lead. It can also be used to hurt them. As the old saying goes, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” To be able to wield power in a way that is helpful to others, you have to learn self-control. You have to practice and grow your foundational leadership skills. You have to work incredibly hard.
When people make the assumption that leaders are lazy they end up dismissing a lot of great would be teachers. Leaders who understand what it means to use power to help others are not everywhere, but they do exist. I know several personally, and I soak up every word they say. I also observe their behavior. The one thing they all have in common is that they are incredibly hard working people.
Seek to serve
Future and current leaders should aspire to work tirelessly on behalf of those they lead. To see leadership and management as opportunities to serve others and shoulder heavy loads for them. To understand that leadership is not about obtaining a glamorous lifestyle, but being the hardest working person on the team.
If that sounds like the kind of leadership you want to practice, then I hope to see you down in the trenches.
What are your thoughts on leadership and power? Let me know in the comments below.