Success as a leader has multiple components. A good number are challenges rarely experienced by those who don’t lead. That’s part of why leadership is sometimes described as lonely enterprise — particularly when the leader is facilitating the goals and performance of others.
Few people can relate or identify to exactly what a leader goes through and experiences as they make decisions, facilitate conversations, and smooth over bruised egos. The easier it is for others to achieve, thanks to the sound leadership above them, the more likely the leader will be denied any praise or attribution. In fact, great leadership requires a leader to insist they had little to do with positive results. To take no credit for smoothing the pathway for others to succeed. As a result, rarely, if ever, do leaders receive thanks from others.
What leaders do is taken for granted … until wrinkles appear that suggest the leader could have done more. Such is the life of a leader. Leadership also requires a thick skin, as scrutiny comes with the territory of good outcomes. Basketball great Chris Bosh is fond of saying, “Criticism is a tax on success.” Every critic thinks the leader could have done more. Or done it better.
Preparing for criticism after elevating the success of others is not an easy task precisely because it seems so unfair. To paraphrase a well-known gangster, that is the life leaders have chosen. The key is for leaders not to be blindsided by the criticism and scrutiny even though they don’t deserve it. Great leaders toughen up and ignore what they can. Leadership, after all, is as much about the response as it is about the action.