7 High Costs of Leadership Every Leader Should Pay

Leadership should be expensive. If we desire to be leaders it should cost us something. Leadership is a stewardship. It’s the keeping of a valuable trust others place in you. Cheap leadership is never good leadership.

Here are 7 high costs of leadership:

Personal agenda

Good leaders give up their personal desires for the good of others, the team or the organization.


What you control you limit. Good leaders give freedom and flexibility to others in how they accomplish the predetermined goals and objectives.


Leading well is no guarantee a leader will be popular. In fact, there will be times where the opposite is more true. Leaders take people through change. Change is almost never initially popular. I wrote a whole chapter about this principle in my book The Mythical Leader.


If you are leading well you don’t often get to lead “comfortably”. You get to wrestle with messiness and awkwardness and push through conflict and difficulty. It’s for a noble purpose, but it isn’t easy.


Good leadership goes into the unknown. That’s often scary. Even the best leaders are anxious at times about what is next.


I believe every leader should surround themselves with other leaders. We should be vulnerable enough to let others speak into our life. But, there will be days when a leader has to stand alone. Others won’t immediately understand. On those days the quality of strength in a leader is revealed. This one should never be intentional, but when you are leading change…when it involves risk and unknowns – this will often be for a season a significant cost.


We follow worthy visions. We create measurable goals and objectives. We discipline for the tasks ahead. We don’t, however, get to script the way people respond, how times change, or the future unfolds.

As leaders, we should consider whether we are willing to pay the price for good leadership. It’s not cheap!

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15 thoughts on “7 High Costs of Leadership Every Leader Should Pay

  1. Ron, I would say another one would be there is a high cost of "Vulnerability" to be a great leader. You can no longer live in ambiguity. You better genuinely care about your team as a whole, not just what goes on between the 4 walls of business. Nothing is worse than hearing the same leader ask how your kids are doing and moves the conversation along quickly like he's checked that box off in his mind. A leader involuntarily becomes an instant counselor. You enter in to people's messes and have an opportunity to share your own hits & misses to encourage them as a whole. It's not easy entering into other's lives and letting them in to your own life. The leaders who try to keep their lives separate will never gain the trust they need for their team to grow fruitfully or succeed contently. The other cost or risk to this is due to increased privacy laws & sensitivity around cultural tolerance in the workplace. It's a delicate balance but worth the work.

    Thanks, Jeff (@JRohmeo)

  2. Really great stuff, Ron. This may not qualify as a "high cost" but I believe a leader must also do more work to equip others, than if they just did it themselves. So much of a leader's time is equipping, building a path for involvement, encouragement and feedback etc, verses the easier path of "doing it myself."

  3. Hello, Thank you for this insight. Something I have discovered in my ministry over the years as a worship pastor…..is the investment of TIME! It can take days, hours, and my every moment to be a good leader. There is never a great time to be the best leader… You have to MAKE every moment your best… It can be exhausting, but the rewards are overwhelming awesome! Thank you… Blessings! Pastor Linda Enos

  4. Thanks Ron, I needed to read this exact thing this morning. I am going through these things right now as I lead in my campus. Tough times, but God will receive the glory as we are faithful to him as Leaders.