6 Leadership Lessons I Learned the Hard Way

I have read more leadership books than I care to mention. But as is usually the case, the lessons I have learned from personal experience are far more valuable to me. Here are six lessons I have learned (the hard way) about leadership that I hope are a help to you.

1- The hardest place to take a stand is in the midst of those closest to you.

Far too often leaders expect those in their own organization, church, circle of friends, or family to automatically be supportive. This is not always the case. It has been my experience that most opposition comes from within. Even Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, was fired by the company he was responsible for starting.

When we fail to expect opposition from within we are in danger of being rocked by it instead of leading through it.

2- You need people to encourage you.

Because of the previous point, leaders need people in their lives who will encourage them. Negativity can be weight that steals your energy, joy, and love for what you do. Putting people in your life that genuinely lift you up and encourage you can make all the difference.

While these people are rare, they are essential.

3- Always be learning.

Whatever field you are in, never stop learning and growing. The moment you stop learning, you become stagnant. Your personal growth fuels your creativity. It is what makes other people want to follow you. If those under you see that you are growing, they know they will grow personally by following you.

4- Know what you stand for and the never stop pursuing it.

Opinions are always present and new ideas will always emerge as the latest and greatest revolutionary concept. While these are not always bad, leaders must remain focused on their core beliefs. Never filter your core commitments through new ideas. Rather, let what you believe and stand for guide you through the ever-changing winds of trends, ideas, and opinions.

5- You become a better leader through the discipline of daily habits.

Leading well is not just about what you do when people are watching. Much of leadership is about your personal discipline in daily habits. While most people will never see your behind-the-scenes daily habits, they are what make you who you are — develop those habits.

6- Effective leadership cannot always be measured by immediate positive results.

Sometimes solid leadership results in conflict and loss. Sometimes taking a stand for truth is unpopular and people will encourage you to keep silent. There are times when difficult decisions have to be made. Good leaders will make these decisions knowing they will be criticized, knowing they will be questioned, and knowing they may not see immediate positive results.

The reality is that sometimes a leader’s value is not recognized until he/she is gone. Great leaders recognize this and lead anyway.

Closing Thought

Leadership is not for the faint of heart, but as we continue to learn and grow we can make an impact, we can influence lives, and we can lead well.

Question: What hard lessons have you learned from experience as a leader? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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Jeremy Wallace is the lead pastor at LifeSpring Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. He has served in several leadership capacities, and he was Jimmy’s mentor while serving as a pastoral intern.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, off-topic, or downright annoying.

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