Very often the reason why students want to take up Entrepreneurship is because of the (mis)understanding of what it means to be a leader. We often hear that they want to become CEOs because they do not want to listen to someone giving them orders; they want to lead and not follow. They believe they can experience freedom when they lead. The exhilaration of having lesser people above you is what makes leadership positions covetable to many from a distance even in a corporate setting.
However leaders will tell us this is far from reality. While as you ascend, your reporting hierarchy does get reduced – but the span to whom you are accountable and responsible for increases. You realize while earlier you had to listen only to your boss – now you have to listen to your board, your client, your vendors, your teams, your peers, your family and worst of all to your inner voice that constantly pushed you to achieve this position.
Not only do people have very less tolerance to mistakes you commit – your every action becomes more visible. You feel a hundreds eyes are on you – you need to be now leading by example and there is no room here for a slip. It does sound scary and morbid. But a seasoned leader (rather a person seasoned for the leadership role) takes it in their stride. These constraints instead of fatiguing them, builds within them the discipline and self control. The very chains that seem to tie down the leadership spirits – become the fire that polishes the gold.
When we were discussing this with a group of business unit heads in our recent training, a participant said this reminds him about the James Hadley Title “Goldfish have no hiding place” but he also added “It is better to be a brilliant goldfish than an unknown fish!!”