Leaders must be willing to pay the price of leadership

At a party one night, a man sat at the piano entertaining the guests. He played splendidly – he had a talent for the keys like no one had ever heard before. He filled the room with joyous sounds.

One partygoer was so enchanted by his playing that he approached the piano to listen for several minutes. He marveled at the graceful movements of the man’s fingers and the beautiful music they made.

As the pianist finished one song, the man listening said to him – a bit jealously – “I would give anything to play like you do.”

The pianist just laughed. “You could have.”

“What do you mean?” asked the partygoer, puzzled.

The pianist began playing again as he said, “Well, I gave a lot of time to practice.”


What is the one reason we don’t have everything we want? Price.

It is the only consideration we have when making any decision. To get the benefit, what do I have to give up? What must I trade for the better thing?

And leadership is no different.

When I began as a leader, I was interested in the perks of my position. I liked my title and the authority that came with it – and I liked getting a nice paycheck, too. I liked the thought that I was on my way to bigger and better things because I was above someone else on the organizational chart. I didn’t know those perks came with a price!

And what was that price? Me.

To fulfill my role as a leader, and truly earn the perks that came with it, I had to set myself aside and focus on those I was leading – what they needed from me, what was in their best interest, and what I could do to help them realize their full potential.

I had to adjust my perspective so that I was focused less on enjoying the perks and more on committing to the price.

And as I shifted, I realized three crucial things about leading:

1. Everything worthwhile is uphill.

Leadership expert John Maxwell has long held that leadership is paramount. “Everything rises and falls on leadership,” he says. On the same note, Max DePree asserts, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.”

No pressure, right?

Leaders set the standard for their people. They create the atmosphere by modeling what is good and what’s not good. Leaders who want to be effective do not have the luxury of foregoing the better thing in favor of the easy thing.

Be realistic with yourself about the responsibilities of leading, and take care to set your team’s expectations carefully.

2. You have to go first.

Leading is called leading because it is just that – taking the lead. It is paving a path for others to walk upon.

This is something we can only do if we are in front!

Yes, there are situations that require contemplation before action. But knowing your leadership values and priorities in advance of those situations makes acting that much easier. Leaders must ever be knowing and developing themselves so that they can act early and often.

3. Improvement requires consistency.

I’m sure you have seen so many “secrets to success” advertised in the marketplace. Everybody wants something more, or better, than what they have now. It is a popular selling point. But what they don’t tell you up front is that the secret to success is found in your daily routine. Only what you do consistently can determine how successful you are.

This is one of the great costs of leadership. Being ever on display, what we find ourselves doing day in and day out determines not just our success, but the success of our team, too – and ultimately, our organization.

If we are always improving, we will inspire others to improve, and that consistency will compound into greater results over time.

What is leadership costing you? As a person committed to growth, you may be less inclined to think about the cost and more inclined to think about the gain. If you face the cost unprepared, you may find yourself unwilling to pay it — but if you keep your “why” in mind, you can pay it gladly.

That’s all for now,


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