The Leadership Playbook: Facing Harsh Realities

A leader must face harsh realities. This is as true for one who would lead themselves as it is for one who leads an organization.

The only thing that happens when you avoid harsh realities is that you suffer the harsh consequences you wish to avoid.

If you don’t have enough opportunities to be able to reach your goals, avoiding that reality will do nothing to improve it. By shining a light on the fact that you don’t have the potential deals you need, you can create a burning platform, determine a new course, and take massive action. By facing the harsh reality of too few opportunities, you can take steps to avoid the negative consequences.

“But wait,” you say. “That will take too much time.” The time will pass whether you take action or not. By acting, you may be able to mitigate the harsh consequences.

You may not relish the idea of letting go an employee who is a top performer with massive character flaws who is also so negative that they are destroying your culture. The harsh reality is that they are disruptive and damaging your workforce. The consequences are a culture unlike the positive culture of high performance you have built. Facing the fact that you’ve allowed this employee to run roughshod for too long and removing them prevents you from paying a higher price than you are paying now.

“But what about the revenue they bring?” you ask. You can replace their revenue, and you can replace it by hiring someone who can perform at that level without the character flaws and baggage.

The harshest reality that a leader has to face is that they are ultimately responsible for what happens on their watch. The harsh reality is that the leader has to make hard calls, calls where the cost of making the decision is high and the cost of not making it is even higher. A leader is charged with making decisions that move the people they lead forward, even when they are unpleasant.

There are harsh consequences for not facing harsh realities. It is a mistake to think that avoiding the decisions you need to make don’t come with a stiff penalty. Over time, you pay a higher price.

  • What is the harsh reality you need to face?
  • Why are you avoiding the decisions and the actions?
  • What is the price of your inaction?

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