Sometimes compliments are not accurate. I received one this past week when a colleague told me “you make leadership look comfortable”.
I told the person that leadership was the complete opposite of being comfortable it is actually having the constant energy to confront the state of being comfortable.
I often say that in higher education what is missing from many people who have leadership roles is the skill to engage in emotional confrontation in dealing with behaviors that are not part of learning or achieving goals. Confrontation does not have to be ugly or mean but it does have to be forceful.
I see individuals that are not willing to confront students, co-workers, and people they supervise when they are not exerting maximum effort or exhibiting behaviors that are detrimental to achieving agreed upon performance standards because it’s a stressful, uncomfortable situation. To constantly motivate a team, an individual, or student you have to be a driving force in that relationship and make personal investments that carry a risk in a higher ed. environment.
There are times when a confrontation or challenge is perceived as some sort of personal disrespect but if you proceed with wisdom, firmness, love, and positive self-control on the behavior and not the person you have a chance to succeed.
This kind of leadership is not easy but when you compromise the risk of confrontation to being comfortable you are not building a relationship you are just avoiding its ultimate demise.
All of this can only take place if you invest time in the people you lead.