The Challenges of Leadership
I once grew a company from one employee (me) to over 42 employees. Full-time, part-time, interns, the whole bunch personally hired by me. Each one paid above the average, with profit sharing, insurance, a great work environment, challenging and interesting work, great people, superior community... it was an awesome place to work. And always my door remained open. Everyone knew they could speak up at any time, take on any challenge, pitch in wherever needed, or simply walk right in to my office and rip me a new one.
It was always surprising to me how few people did that. Or how, sometimes, I would hear that some of the employees were afraid to do so. The truly amazing thing is just how often someone can harbor feelings that could be easily dealt with if only they would speak up about them and let someone else know. But they don't. They let them fester. Humans are strange creatures. But I often have interesting conversations with them.
I can't begin to tell you how many books, seminars, TED talks, and leadership conferences I've attended. And while many of those experiences taught me something, most of them are complete and utter bullshit. The truth is that common sense, empathy, and experience are the only things that truly matter when it comes to herding humans. Balance is the key ingredient. Maintaining a proper balance between being understanding and hard is extremely difficult. As much as people say they want a leader that understands them, they don't really mean it. And as much as other people say they hate the tough leader, they also don't really mean it. People tend to want what they don't have. This is the truth about people in general.
The same holds true in Eve. As a leader of anything, a CEO, or an FC, or whatever, you are screwed in so many ways it can make your head spin. You can't make all the people happy all the time. And here is the advice that very few people will tell you, don't try to make anyone happy. You will fail. Making one person happy will only piss someone else off. The only thing you can control is yourself. In all things be true to yourself first and foremost. Not in a selfish self-centered way, but in your principles. Be a rock. Whatever kind of rock you happen to be, be that rock. All the time. People respect rocks, they depend on dependability, predictability and direction. Don't try to be what you are not. Be who you are. Even if you happen to be an asshole. Be a great asshole. (And maybe get some therapy, cause seriously dude, the world needs less assholes.)
Being consistent is critical. And this is not to downplay the other elements of leadership, only to place the focus where it needs to be. It is important to be understanding, to have empathy, to have a direction in mind. And mostly it is important to communicate those frequently and often, over and over and over again. If you ever think to yourself, "I'm sure they all get it now", they don't. Tell them again. Trust me.
Being a leader is incredibly rewarding. It is also insanely confusing, frustrating, and often complicated. This is what you asked for when you stepped up to the plate. It comes with the territory. People are counting on you.
The secret is that you control nothing. What you have created controls you. Always remember that and use it to your advantage. Direct the current, guide the flow, but never try to stand in its way. You will get railroaded. And then you'll get frustrated. And then you'll throw your hands up in defeat and wander off into a corner somewhere to cry like a baby.
"Let's go that way." Just be damned sure you know what you are doing when you get there.