WHAT'S IT LIKE TO BE A LEADER?

That is the number of results that Google returned when I searched the word "leadership".
06/02/2016 03:27 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

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765 million! That is the number of results that Google returned when I searched the word "leadership". There is no doubt that there is a societal fascination with the subject. I certainly consider myself among those intrigued by it. I view myself as a life-long student, and a bit of a leadership nerd. Yet, when I glance at my bookshelf or even think about my own writings, I feel like there is something missing. There has been some incredible wisdom and teaching shared on topics such as; the definition of leadership, how to lead, and what it takes to develop leaders. But, I have found little on what it is actually like once you get there. When I speak with other students of leadership or even current leaders, I find that they too are curious about that. Like me, they want to understand how others experience it, and if it is similar for everyone.

When I glance at my bookshelf or even think about my own writings, I feel like there is something missing.

Personally, this particular fascination first came to me a few years ago. I was quietly walking around the house in the middle of the night. I was trying desperately to tamp down my fear around a recent decision. I thought to myself, "Does every leader struggle with fear like this, and if so why the hell would anyone want to become one?". From that point on, the questions just kept coming. I desperately want to hear from other leaders. I am interested in understanding what keeps them up at night, and what they carry with them as they walk the quiet and lonely halls of a sleeping house. I want to know how they deal with fear. I wonder if they react the same way I did that night and suppress it. Or, do they work through it and attack that which frightens them?

I am interested in understanding what keeps them up at night, and what they carry with them as they walk the quiet and lonely halls of a sleeping house.

We have all heard the saying that "It is lonely at the top". Are they, in fact, lonely? I imagine they must confide in someone. Who is that person and how much do they share their worries and insecurities? With regards to those insecurities, how do leaders deal with the things that are said about them by their direct reports, other team members, and even the public? Closely related, how do they deal with making a decision that they know will be unpopular?

Who is that person and how much do they share their worries and insecurities?

The pressures of leadership are well documented, and the impact on the mind, body and spirit can be severe. I want to learnabout how they deal with that stress. How do they take care of themselves and make time for the other important things in their lives? Don't you wonder what their families think about the burden of leadership? What about friends and life outside of work?

Don't you wonder what their families think about the burden of leadership?

Leadership is about getting things done through others. What have they learned about what it takes to connect with people, to motivate them and keep them engaged in their work? I would be curious to ask a leader what do they know now that they wish they knew earlier in their career.

What have they learned about what it takes to connect with people, to motivate them and keep them engaged in their work?

The opportunity for insight is almost limitless. The questions just need to be asked, and this is where it gets exciting. In cooperation with the editors of SmartBrief on Leadership, I am going to begin a journey in search of the answers. I will be interviewing leaders from all different types of industries and organizations, asking questions similar to those above. I will share what I learn each month in the pages of SmartBrief. It is my hope that these will add to the great body of work on leadership that already exists. Together we can all learn what it is actually like to lead.

Read Great Books On Leadership.
Join the Integrative Leader's Book Club. Each month we pick a thought provoking book to read and discuss. In June, we will be reading Daniel Pink's "Drive".

Elliot Begoun is the Principal of The Intertwine Group. His articles appear in publications such as the Huffington Post, SmartBrief and Linked2Leadership. He serves as a thinking partner, providing clients with the clarity, focus, and tools needed to make good people and product decisions. He helps clients build lasting relationships with their customers, develop leaders who make others feel heard, cared for, valued and respected, and most importantly grow.

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