All leaders dreamed of what leadership would be like one day when they achieved gaining an official leadership position. Though we all know they were leaders before they had the position all leaders looked forward to the day where they would take the helm and guide the ship. We dreamed of success, of flawless execution of events, of everyone liking us.
But then reality set in, leadership wasn’t a rose garden.
One of the realities that sets in early is: people are going to talk about you while you are not around and some of those conversations are going to be negative in nature. The people you lead, both those that love you and don’t, are going to say things that are anything but nice while you are not around. This is a reality a leader must accept and deal with personally not publicly. You will never be able to track down every conversation, every negative comment and smooth things over. There are just going to be people who either don’t like you and talk negatively about you or people who are just trying to prove their worth to others by criticizing you when your back is turned gaining for themselves a false sense of importance.
Here are a few ways to deal with this personally,
- Accept the fact that people are going to say negative things when you are not present and there is nothing you can do to stop it. Humanity in general has a negative vibe which permeates every facet of our society.
- Never give the “undisclosed sources” a chance to gain power over your mind. When someone comes to you and says “there are a lot of people who say, or feel a certain way” it is time to ignore what is being said to you. If you listened to what was said, instead of worrying about the mysterious “unidentified sources” do your best to erase that information from your mind and do not allow it to hold any weight over you. This is a tactic of the enemy or of someone who wants to win an argument with you or gain influence with you concerning what they want.
- Always require people to give you the names of their “secret sources”. If they refuse to do that end the conversation and do not give it another thought.
- Fact of life – if people will not come to you and talk with you (there is a difference between talking with you and telling you off – remember this fact) then what they have said is not worth much. Sometimes people say things they really don’t believe but say them in the heat of the moment or while they are feeling emotionally charged. Sometimes people say things about you that once they say them they realize they really don’t believe that about you. If you and I are honest we have done the same thing as leaders. It is so easy for our tongues to slip and say things that we really don’t believe.
- If you are a leader with vision people will resist the change that comes with that with their mouths. Sometimes you will know about it sometimes you will not but just because this happened doesn’t mean that you are headed in the wrong direction.
- I know none of us want to be blindsided. We keep our ears to the ground to make sure we know what resistance is coming in the future. If we jump on everything we hear, especially when its hearsay, we create problems that exist only because we focused on them and gave them the power to grow. If we had left those things alone they would have never gained power. Leaders often create problems that wouldn’t have existed by not handling this leadership reality correctly.
- This last one is true of leadership in general. Always focus on what is important, the vision you have, the direction of your organization and do not allow “I want everyone to think I’m the greatest leader ever or I want everyone to like me and approve of what I am doing” be what you focus on. Remember the organization you are leading is not about your greatness or even making yourself great. It is about making the people and the organization you lead the best it can be. If your focus is on making the area you lead better what people say about you good or bad just doesn’t matter as much.