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Just Fine Being The Bad Guy

You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. - Winston Churchill

One of the keys to being a leader is the ability to do what’s necessary and right in the face of opposition. It is an underrated skill since making such decisions usually gets you excoriated by many. And even worse, you rarely receive any praise even when you’re right. Nevertheless, it’s an important skill because not every decision will be easy. There are sure to be moments when a decision is the right move, but results in a departmental upset, a client not being catered to or worse – someone losing their job.

Underneath the hard, candy coating of the manager, lies the nougaty center of a human being that wants to be liked and accepted. Still, when you’re in a position of leadership, those desires must be set aside for the greater good of your organization. You simply can’t make trustworthy, sound decisions if you’re concerned about who’s going to like it and who isn’t. You have to remember that you can’t please everyone, so it’s best to just do what’s right. This is not to say that you should be insensitive and unaware, but being aware and compassionate is differently from being led and swayed.

Now naturally the question is "what if I’m wrong?" That’s an easy answer – so what?! I don’t want to diminish the consequences of your decisions, but that’s the attitude you have to take when confronted with that question. You can’t lead out of fear. Fear disempowers and as a leader you are being counted on to provide leadership that’s based on intelligent, insightful decisions. You have to brush the doubt aside and go forward. Keep in mind how lucky you are to be a position to have to make such weighty decisions in the first place.  Respect the opportunity by making the best decision you can based on the information you have – not through needless worrying and fretting.

So what does this all mean? As a leader, you have to accept that sometimes you’re going to be the bad guy and be fine with it. In this information age, this is a big deal because in the old days people would just talk about you at most. Now you have to deal with email attacks, discussions boards, YouTube, dedicated websites and more that can be used to trash you when you take an unpopular stance. But hey, you wanted to be the boss so you have to take the good with the bad.

The good news is that if your decisions are based on sound principles and are for the betterment of the organization, you will come out on top more often than not.

— Douglas Paul 

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  • Kent Johnson

    Appreciate the post as of my professors recently stated "the leader's job is to create openings, high paid people get paid to forge ahead not easily walk the well tread path". I like the Churchill quote, I just posted 4 key aspects of Churchill's leadership style on my blog, check it out if you get a chance:

  • David Mullings

    Great post. If you don't have detractors, you haven't accomplish much. A leader has to learn to let their reputation and actions speak for them so that even when the email, discussion board and YouTube attacks start, they do not have to respond because their actions and reputation precede them.

    A leader also has to have thick skin and while being aware of what is said, be careful not to live your life by what others think of you. Being secure in your self-esteem and your self-worth is key to not needing validation from every single person you meet.