It is no exaggeration to say leadership is hard work—it’s more than showing up periodically or being available when needed. Leadership in an organization is a responsibility that can’t just be passed off to someone else. Leadership is about making good decisions and taking the heat when those decisions don’t work out as planned. It is about knowing you will be second-guessed and it is about making those decisions anyway. It is knowing that the buck stops with you and trusting yourself to make those tough calls. Leadership means having the courage to make tough choices, even if it doesn’t turn out as you had hoped or expected, even if people are disappointed or critical of your decision.
As a leader, you have to know yourself and be honest about how you work. You need to know what motivates you, what your strengths are, and where your weaknesses lie. You have to take care of yourself by getting enough sleep, exercise, and downtime. And then you have to be able to give that all away at the drop of a hat for the sake of those who are counting on you. Well-meaning leaders often do more harm than good when they avoid these tough decisions for fear of losing their power. They succumb to the pressure of stakeholders who haven’t thought through the implications of their requests, and cave in to pressures that don’t serve the organization’s mission. They fail to see the big picture—the consequences of their decisions go beyond themselves, beyond this quarter or this year, and impact both short-term and long-term strategy.
As leaders of organizations, individuals tend to think of spending power. While it’s true that money is necessary for an organization, it is not the only factor required for leading an efficient and profitable venture. The ability to take charge, or to be able to give your opinion, or even take a stand when needed must be present for individuals within an organization, and to take ownership of their work and understand that without leadership, they will not accomplish their goals. Leadership is not just about the amount of money that an individual has; they need to have all the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to achieve their goals within the organization.
“There are various reasons why people become leaders, including wanting to do something for their family or town or community” (Kohn, 2002). It is common for people to want to make a difference in different ways, even though it may not seem like anything happens. The first thing considering becoming a leader is to determine what they want out of their leadership experience. Leaders at Softnotions are very determined and even a bit ruthless, but they have a reason for this. As a group, they want to help the people to use tools comfortably and effectively. They want to raise the standard of living and the level of quality and technology of everyone. A true leader is only as good as the people who follow them, and they know it.
One of the qualities of our leaders is their ability to make tough decisions. They are always willing to take risks, even if it means losing it all. However, when you make tough decisions, don’t forget to take time for your people. If your people believe in you, nothing can stop them from growing and improving themselves. They treat each member like an equal, but they know when to work together as a team. Great leaders do not avoid criticism because that allows people to feel powerless in the face of change or other challenges.
Leaders at Softnotions are always open to feedback. They often know better than anyone else what the people want, and they are never afraid to share that information with them. They always say, “If you want to come up with ideas that would make your project successful, you must be willing to listen closely and share your knowledge openly.” They inspire the team by examples and never give up on them. Their optimism helps to push through difficulties and keep a positive attitude, even when it’s not easy to do so. They know success is a choice, and they choose it every day. While leading others, always remember that it takes leaders to create new leaders. If they fail at this, then the whole team will most likely fail as well.