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I Can’t Get No Satisfaction: The Harsh Reality of Being a Leader

People probably look at me and still see someone young in their career. Just the other day someone referred to me as new to leadership. However, reluctantly, I have found myself in roles of leadership and authority from the time I was a teenager. I made the transition from a shitty employee to a reliable employee and, eventually, found myself with a set of keys and some responsibility by the time I was seventeen. More times than not, I've had some level of people in my charge both in the workforce and even while in school. And, while I love people (I genuinely do), one of the greatest challenges I have experienced as a leader is you will never, please and satisfy them all (mo people, mo problems).

I don’t say this to be discouraging. I say this, to be honest, which is why leadership may not be for everyone. The work is easy, but getting people to do the work as an effective team is hard. When you hear people refer to the "people side" of business as “soft”, I would like to kindly tell those people to fuck off. Most of the hard shitty days you've had are a problem due to people and relationships, not the report you had to run by EOD.

In my experience, one of the most important aspects of being a good leader (and I don’t know how to teach it), is you have to really fucking care while knowing that you will never please everyone. You're going to have to make some really tough decisions and, with that, you're going to disappoint, you're going to be liked for some things and disliked for others. You're going to love some of the people you lead while others are going to seem like their #1 goal is to make your life absolutely miserable.

But you have to care. It's just part of the job. It’s truly a rollercoaster and you must be able to handle the ups, the downs, the freefalls, the twists and turns. You have to try to connect with the difficult employees with good intentions, you have to have tough conversations, you have to remember to give praise, and sprinkle in a little fun. Everyone will have expectations of you and those expectations will be all across the spectrum. On this ride, you quickly realize you can't get no satisfaction (at least not all the time), but you have to care enough about your people, your role of responsibility, and your work to constantly try anyways.

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