I’m A Leader But I Hate Leading |Challenge Journal #2

Last month, I was asked to write a blog post for the publishing company I work for. I specifically write in the youth ministry section. I wrote about leadership development of volunteers, something I find very important especially as I see the younger crowds not understand how leadership isn’t a title. 

I struggled writing this post because if I’m being honest. I hate leading. Especially leading peers, it’s the worst. It’s crazy that for me a leadership position aka a position of “power” feels incredibly vulnerable. When you’re a leader, everything you do is critiqued. From how you phrased it, what you chose, to even how you dressed, you can bet someone has a comment about how they would have done a better job. I’m at the point that when I’m asked to step up, I hesitate because I know that I am a sensitive person and I’ve been hurt in this way before. How do I write something to help prepare volunteers for the struggle?

What I could have written was “As a leader, you’ll never feel good enough. You’ll feel like you have great ideas with poor execution. Your friends will talk behind your back and tell others that they would do a much better job. You will never feel confident in what you’re doing” While that is all true, I wanted to be more helpful. Sometimes the truth hurts, but this was definitely not the type of article to air my grievances. I ended up writing practical ideas to work on leadership development. I actually really liked the article, but wish I could understand how to write about it better.

I guess, my writing problem that I discovered is how to merge the good with the bad. I think it’s helpful and necessary to acknowledge when something is hard and when it can be hurtful, but to do it in a way that is helpful and not just whining. Should I have leaned in to the discomfort of leading? How do I know when I am doing this and how do I fix not fully addressing the struggle?

2 thoughts to “I’m A Leader But I Hate Leading |Challenge Journal #2”

  1. Adele,
    Oh my god. I cannot tell you how much I resonate with this post and these mixed feelings about being a leader. In my extra-curricular experiences (on campus), I have struggled so many times being a friend as a leader and using my power as a leader at the same time! Truth does hurt, but you couldn’t have put it in any better words, I love that you are so honest about the harsh reality of being a leader, and seeing this influence your writing. As someone who is in a leadership dilemma described like yours, I often remind myself that I can only do what I can control – if I see my friends talking about it behind my back, I can control my actions and words but I cannot control their words.

    Of course the good and bad is hard to mix, but I think you do a really great job of addressing both sides of the same coin, and that you ensure that the readers get a 360 degree overview of the problem being addressed. Rather than showing one side always triumphs over the other, it would be far more useful to acknowledge and accept that both sides exist, and practically, both sides can be dealt with quite rationally.

  2. Adele,

    Your post was super insightful! I have always reflected on leadership as a conflicting dichotomy between authority vs. friendship (i.e. doing what is best for a group vs. doing what a group will like the most). But I think you offer a perspective that is also incredibly pervasive regarding the persistent backlash a leader faces. At what point can one achieve contentedness as a leader? Is it when one achieves an objectively beneficial point, others in the group react affirmatively to a leader’s actions, or when a leader feels personally satisfied? I think that what you wrote in your post about leadership was probably truthful because we can understand the characteristics of what make a good leader. I don’t think that we can speak in absolute terms about facing criticism. I (personally) attribute the ability to handle it as perseverance, another desirable quality in a leader. Maybe nothing I said was that helpful, but to me, leadership is a continuous trial and error as one gets put in those situations. Eventually, a comfortable style of communicating with others and being confident with leadership will emerge.


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