Why every (good) leader is a masochist

Good leaders are masochists.

You heard it here first.

What is masochism? Kraukman’s definition is when a leader finds enjoyment in what appears to be painful or tiresome while they pursue a vision that inspires them. [Check out the upside of pain and why you should seek it.]

A critical part of our work is to help create mission-based masochists inside organizations. Otherwise, being a leader becomes a hard, uninspiring task that simply pays a little better.

Leading people is hard:

… it’s hard to give strong, actionable feedback

… it’s hard to deliver effective meetings that align and provide clarity

… it’s hard to find ways to inspire your team to reach further

… it’s hard to make time for the important ‘non-urgent’ rather than fall victim to the quicksand of ‘busy’

… it’s hard to seek ways to collaborate effectively instead of using authority to drive results

… it’s hard to address your own leadership deficits and engage in the learning process

Leading people can be challenging, painful and exhausting. When you don’t have a compelling vision or a bigger game (beyond your selfish bonus), the pain will overshadow your team’s progress towards a powerful impact.

When this happens, your behaviours and language start to become negative, and that negativity spreads like wildfire in your team. Before you know it, you become so committed to being in pain that you don’t realize that YOU are the problem.

A lot of things are hard. What we see in leaders who are making a difference, is their commitment to being better. These leaders hold to the vision of where they are headed and embrace the new mindset needed to lead in a challenging and unpredictable world.

They undeniably encounter discomfort and pain along the way, just like those dreaded early morning workouts at the gym.

When you focus on your vision more than the pain – you will not only get there faster, but will enjoy the ride more and create immense value within your business.

I got a reminder of the power of masochism from my daughter recently as she was determined to learn how to skate. This is masochism in action.