It’s Not Just You: Leadership is Harder Than Ever Before

It’s Not Just You: Leadership is Harder Than Ever Before

Leadership is struggling in organizations and that might be an understatement. The disengagement rate of employees is at an all-time high. The current failure rate for a new leader in an organization is 60% and 71% of organizations don’t feel their leaders can lead them into the future.

Taking these facts into consideration and all my time studying leaders, I believe the best leaders have never been better. I don’t know if there has ever been in a time in history with more self-aware, hungry, and motivated leaders who believe it’s their purpose to make a difference in the lives of other people or what we call "Welder Leaders."

What this has caused is a growing divide between leaders and non-leaders, not the other way around. A larger number of people come into work every day thinking about what their people owe them vs. what they can give their people. 

The reason for this is simple. “If it were easy, everyone would do it.”

Much like marriage, soon after a high performer is put into a position of being responsible for other people, the reality sets in that it’s not easy. It’s hard because no longer do you get to think about yourself all the time, you are required to think about others and what’s in their best interest before your own.

Here are a few reasons leadership is harder than ever before:

People are no longer satisfied or willing to put up with average to below average leadership

Thanks to websites like Glassdoor, social media posts, and best places to work lists, people know there are great companies and great leadership in the workplace. There are two caveats here: 

  • The golden handcuffs. People feel they are stuck in jobs with poor leadership because of what they are being paid. They have built their lives around the salary they make and taking the risk to change or explore isn’t something worth changing.
  • Average performers don’t mind sticking around for poor leadership.

Milliennials and Gen Z are slightly different

I hate the word millennial. If I have to hear one more time how different they are, I am going to lose it. If there is any generation that might be different by a large degree, it’s Gen Z who is currently entering the workforce. Either way, these two generations (myself included) do desire things like praise, experiences, mentorship, and the feeling of being invested in slightly more than previous generations. (They have always been important, just slightly more today.) So figuring out the right balance can be challenging.

Growth, Growth, Growth

I hear the word “growth” over and over again with every single leader and company we work with. Why? Because whatever the current growth rate, it could always be better and our investors, owners, and highly driven people simply want more. This makes leaders feel like they are being pulled in in two widely different directions. On one hand, there’s the expectation of immediate results and the mindset of profit over people. On the other hand, there’s the long game; their primary focus being on the people they lead.

If this is a struggle for you, I loved the idea Marcel Schwantes shared on this week’s episode of the Follow My Lead podcast about servant leadership, “There is nothing soft about serving and impacting others at work because when you do you get results.”

Add all this up and it’s simply true. Being a leader in today’s modern work environment is harder than ever before, but that’s the best part. With the right mindset, behaviors, and long-term view on your career, you can become the leader people want to follow. When this begins to happen, your career will have purpose and meaning you have never ever felt before.

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  • Tom Healey

    There's no class in early education that defines leadership. It's way harder than you have ever thought. It's either sink or swim.

  • Ian Franklin

    Leadership has nothing to do with the title you hold.

  • James Courtenay

    The current leaders are quite bad at what they are doing because they don't have a vision or planning for the future. Most decisions are based on the short run....

  • Alison Sherwin

    True leadership is the ability to communicate with and effectively reach each and every person you work with, in the way that works best for each of them.

  • Ryan Collins

    Here is what's wrong: The moment someone moves into a position of leadership, the person believes that everyone else should accommodate his or her needs, when actually it's the opposite.

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John Eades

Leadership Expert

John is the CEO of LearnLoft, author of, F.M.L. Standing Out & Being a Leader and host of the 'Follow My Lead' Podcast. He writes or has been featured on, LinkedIn Pulse,,, CNBC Money, and more. John completed his education at the University of Maryland College. 

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