Officers and leaders at the top echelon on the biggest companies and businesses always appear calm, unruffled, and poised. We’re talking CEOs, presidents, institution founders, and industry leaders. They always look like they have all the time in the world, spending all day sitting behind enormous desks, dispensing instructions and orders, and hobnobbing with the rich and famous.
To the unsophisticated eye, they looked relaxed and leading an easy life. After all, that is the persona they want to present, the image they want to show the world.
And this is why everybody else wants to be in their positions too.
What are not flaunted, considered, and talked about are the burdens of leadership. Any effective and successful leader carry a burden that is different and unrecognized by many.
The heaviest burden a leader carries around is the sense of accountability. He or she is accountable and responsible for everything in the business – the growth, stability, and profitability of the company, the livelihood of the employees, and the investments of the partners and owners. All these things will depend a lot on the steps and on the decisions, he or she will take. As the ultimate decision-maker of the organization, leaders are constantly under pressure to make the right move and take the right path.
It is also the sense of accountability that leads to another stress factor – reluctance to trust. Most businesses started small, with the entrepreneur and his or her partners, if there are, and with the help of his or her immediate family or close friends. As the company grows, so does the need for more hands, so the entrepreneur is forced to hire and bring more people into the company. The hard part is trusting these people with responsibilities, tasks, and assets of the company. That is never easy and is one of the main reasons for anxiety among business leaders.
Another heavy psychological burden is the solitude amongst a group. Within any group, the leaders are always regarded differently. They are given due respect, space, and deference. Even in flat-structured organizations where leaders and employees work seamlessly and interact freely, there is always that little social divide. Office clerks just do not and will not tease the boss as harshly or bump him as hard in the friendly company games as they do with their peers. This enforced social separation could easily lead to loneliness and diminished social interaction.
Facing risks is another heavy load a leader has to carry a lot. This burden is magnified by his or her accountability to the organization and to its assets and people’s welfare. One has to find the right degree of risk the organization can tolerate without pulling back too much and get left behind in the industry. The greatest and most successful business leaders you see today have found that sweet spot and improved statistics by working to minimize the necessary risks.
These burdens affect all leaders although in different forms, types, levels, and at different stages of their leadership. The most successful are those who managed to conquer their fears and misgivings by learning the business and industry, taking calculated risks, and accepting failures as integral to the road to success.