The world is not fair. It’s not as you would like it to be. That’s something you must understand, especially as a leader. As much as we would like to have an ideal world. It’s not going to happen. At least not any time soon. Hence, as a leader you must be able to deal with it. You must be able to remain calm and know your options. And holding hands singing the Kumbaya won’t do the trick.
Here are a few hints:
It’s nothing personal
That’s what they say. And that’s what you might want to believe. Get ready for a rude awakening: It is, in most cases, personal. You might have something another one wants. You might, knowingly or not, be in someone’s way. Or you are the proxy for the real target. And then they fight against you. They don’t fight about finding a better solution for a problem. They fight you. And the end justifies the means. Hence, it is personal, most of the time.
People are mostly honest, fair, and trustworthy
Sounds great. Too good to be true. Don’t be naïve. When people can have an advantage by playing foul, they will play foul. And when people can deceive you, they will deceive you to gain an advantage. Always watch your enemies closely. And watch those you consider friends even closer. History is filled with stories of betrayal. Betrayal from people that were considered friends, sometimes even family.
Here’s a personal anecdote:
Many years ago I had someone I considered friend in the company. A friend of many years. Many things we had done together. And I trusted him. Until that fateful day came. It was in a Board Meeting. On stage and taken completely off guard I was betrayed. Betrayed by my friend. He simply had changed sides. And this change of sides got him a huge personal advantage. When I talked to him after the fact he just said: “Welcome to reality!” And I realized that I had no friend. The moment he saw an advantage in betraying me he didn’t hesitate, not even a split second. And I learned my lesson.
Live up to your values. Be honest by all means. But also shut up. Never reveal every thought of yours. Remain a mystery. And never, never, never expect that others will be honest with you. Don’t become a target by talking too much. Learn whom to trust and whom not.
Ethics and Rules
Organizations and companies pride themselves with their rules of ethics and conduct in place. A good thing it seems. Yet, there are always people not playing by the rules. They don’t give a damn about ethics and conduct. And it starts at the top. That’s, for instance, why there is so much corruption possible. A small group of people being corrupt. And the silent majority tolerating such behavior. The few ‘troublemakers’ pointing out what’s going on are quickly isolated and then removed. Because they didn’t understand the kind of game being played.
Take this short insight as a reality check. And that’s just the tiny tip of the iceberg. As much as we all like to envision an ideal world, get real. Know and understand the reality of life. The more important you become as a leader, the more likely it is that you will be attacked. The more likely it is that you will piss off people. Sometimes people with a lot of power. And you definitely will as a true leader. Envy is such a strong force. It can get people to do things they themselves couldn’t believe they would do. Don’t underestimate it. The earlier you understand and accept reality, the better off you are as a leader. Become a master in playing your game.My mentor back then at the beginning of my career told me: “When you do your job right as a leader, you won’t have friends. But you will earn a lot of respect. It ain’t easy though. Tough it out.”