Leadership has had countless words written about it and thousands upon thousands of hours from the top minds have been spent trying to decipher "how to" and "what" makes a great leader. There are book after book and then there are hundreds of great autobiographies by the men and women we see and admire as true leaders. Words spoken right from their very mouths describing leadership ins and outs.
So with all these examples, all this education and all the ink spilled on the topic of leadership it surprises me that the one thing that can and will define a leader is rarely, or never, spoken of.
A leader must understand this one fact. They must embrace this quality.
A leader must learn to live alone.
Learning how to accept the hollow reality of it, the tiny sound of your own voice in your self-induced vacuum, the sound of your voice when you have no idea what you are saying, when you have absolutely no idea whether or not the decision you are making or, even worse, about to make, is correct. The leader is always thinking to themselves.
You know about accountability. You've heard how to take ownership. But that is the after math. The time spent laying awake in bed wondering if it was the right decision, the right move, the right hire, the wrong location, this is what being alone is about. This is what leadership is based on.
Being dead alone and then realizing that there are hundreds or maybe thousands of smarter people than you ready to judge and destroy your every move just because they can. Then an even more hollow thought that no matter what decision you take that you may never be right because half of the world sees it one way and the other half the opposite way, yet something must be done. These people will never tell you that you made the wrong choice but you know they will think it.
That is what being alone is like. Alone, stuck with the thought that only you know the truth. The truth that you may not have a freaking clue as to what to do. However, you hold that truth close to the vest and when it comes to the show you stand and deliver...something...with a smile.
Yes, leadership is about being alone. In the moment you will have lots of friends, employees, partners, or team mates, but at the end of the day the hard decisions rest with you. "Rest" not being the best selection of words for what we are describing. You will need to look deep and you will need to embrace yourself because if you want to be a leader...
...it is a long, lonely game.
They never teach you that part at school.