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Leadership can be expensive. If we desire to be leaders it will likely cost us something – maybe even something we value greatly. There are high costs of leadership that every leader should be willing to pay. 

The reality is that leadership is a stewardship. It’s the keeping of a valuable trust others place in you. Therefore, cheap leadership is never good leadership.

What high costs are you paying for leadership? 

Let me give you a few examples.

7 high but worthy costs of leadership:

Forgoing a personal agenda

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

Limited control

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

Not enamored by popularity

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.

Willingness to be uncomfortable

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.

Embracing fear

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

Handling loneliness

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.

Unscripted outcomes

People follow worthy visions. Of course, we should create measurable goals and objectives. We should 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 the high costs of leadership. Good leadership is not cheap!

Check out my leadership podcast where we discuss leadership nuggets in a practical way. Plus, check out the other Lifeway Leadership Podcasts.

Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Jim Pemberton says:

    Limited Control is important, but it should be thought through well. One might think, "I'll let people go and see what they do." You need to maintain control, but it needs to be rightly focused. The analogy I have is the good old thumb over the garden hose. You take your hose off the rack and let it lay where it will, then you turn on the water. with an open end the water goes out maybe a foot and falls to the ground. The water pools up under you and doesn't go very far. One little point of control is added: your thumb placed partially and firmly over the end of the hose. Suddenly the water under this controlled pressure soars through the air and is capable of watering things several yards away. You don't control where the hose lays. You direct, but don't control precisely where the water lands, but your little point of control at your thumb makes the whole thing possible.