I landed my first leadership role at IdeaScale. I experimented with it before at Marketo but never had the title or the authority to make things happen.
Why is being a leader awesome?
You get to help people grow and find their passion. If someone is having trouble, they're more likely to come to you for guidance. You can be the calm during the storm when things are uncertain. You can change people's personal and professional lives for the better.
You learn to understand entire ecosystems. Nothing exists on it's own anymore. Everything is dependent on everything else for success.
You get really great at problem solving and code switching. I'm pretty convinced that after leading at my current company, I could be dropped into any industry with a new crew of people and find high level solutions and strategies to key problems. It feels empowering. You have the potential to learn and to design for anything.
Why is being a leader not so awesome?
Leaders have to be level-headed, articulate, and fair. It doesn't matter if you didn't get enough sleep or if you're under a lot of stress. You might get bombarded with questions or negative feedback without relief. You might not have control over things you need to change. Regardless, you need to maintain that leadership-like integrity. When people feel unstable and they see you're a confident, unfazed, problem solver, that's what defines you as a leader.
A haunted house is terrifying. So is feeling responsible for someone's personal and professional growth for the next couple years (inevitably impacting the rest of their lives and their children's lives and their children's children's lives). You have the opportunity to make someone amazing. If you screw up, you can rob them of that opportunity.
When I became an official leader, I felt like I adopted my entire company. I wanted to make everyone independent and confident. I also wanted to encourage colleagues to play to their strengths while also acknowledging and working on their weaknesses. I say this not to be condescending but to emphasize the immense, weighty responsibility I felt when I was asked to lead.
Here's the thing.
No one is perfect and there are a lot of crappy managers out there. While I do want to make everyone's dreams come true and to set high expectations for myself, I need to be realistic.
I decided to set reachable leadership goals and iterate. That's the best I can do and if all else, I'll (hopefully) be better than average :)