The Upside of the Downside of Leadership

Guest Blogger: Brandon Cox

My seven-year-old daughter has fallen into the habit of declaring what she’s going to do when she’s an adult – things like spend money limitlessly and eat whatever she wants. Why? Because adults get to be in charge and “tell kids what to do.”

We adults know, however, that once you arrive at adulthood there await us all kinds of unforeseen responsibilities, dashing forever our dreams of milkshakes every midnight and video games all day.

This is a parable of leadership. We want it, and then we want more of it. Because when you’re at the top, you get all the glory and you get to tell everybody what to do, right? Again, we are reminded once we get there that leadership comes with responsibility. In fact, leadership is pretty much defined by responsibility.

Irresponsible, immature leaders love the upside of leadership – the fun, the influence, the glory, and the potential raises in pay. But great leaders crave more. Great leaders crave all that leadership has to offer.

The downside of leadership is no fun at all. Let me give you some examples.

Confronting a co-worker about their lack of work ethic.
Fielding the criticism that inevitably comes when you’re in charge.
Making decisions when you never seem to have enough information to go on.
Casting a bold vision when the energy has been sucked out of your sails.

These are the aspects of leadership that are not-so-enjoyable, and there are too many more to list.

Here’s the upside of the downside of leadership though… tackle the tough tasks and you’re an unstoppable leader!

God gives us greater responsibility depending on how well we handle the smaller responsibilities. I don’t know about you but I’m not afraid to say that I want an ever-increasing influence. To think otherwise is to dwell in mediocrity.

So if you want to lead big… get the small things right. If you really want to enjoy the upside of leadership, accept the downside and do it well. Go after all the influence God has to offer you, even when it’s tough.

Brandon Cox is a Pastor, Web Designer, and Blogger who lives in Bentonville, Arkansas with his wife and daughter who are expecting their second child shortly. You can catch him on Twitter @brandonacox.

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  • Brandon…this is an awesome post!

    This reminds me of what John Maxwell said: the more you go up the more you give up.

    True leaders are motivated not by what they can get…but by what they can give, who they can help, and how far the people can go under their charge. Unfortunately doing that, means a lot of mumbling and complaining satisfied with the status quo. But if we do it well we should hear the best thing we can hear: “well done!”

    Thanks for the reminder!

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