In our world today we see so many so called leaders in business and politics who are all about themselves, their own benefits, their own rewards, their own egos. It makes it hard for people to understand that what they are showing is the antithesis of leadership. True leadership is built on sacrifice.
Sacrifice is a constant in leadership. It is an ongoing process, not a one-time payment. Many times the cost of moving forward in leadership is often financial, there is usually a temporary step back in income when you take on a new challenge of leadership. If you do your job right the finances will come, never hesitate to make a sacrifice when you know the step is right.
Leaders who want to rise have to do more than take an occasional cut in pay. They have to give up their rights. When you become a leader, you lose the right to think for yourself. Dexter Yager says "If you have a decision to make, you can never go wrong choosing the option that is best for your people over what is best for you personally." For every person, the nature of the sacrifice may be different. For example, Lee Iaccoca's sacrifice came late in his career to save Chrysler. Former South African president F. W. de Klerk, who worked to dismantle apartheid in his country sacrificing his own career. The circumstances change from person to person, but the principle doesn't. Leadership means sacrifice.
Leaders give up to go up. That is true of every leader regardless of profession. Talk to any leader, and you will find that he has made repeated sacrifices. Usually the higher that leader has climbed, the greater the sacrifices he or she has made. Effective leaders sacrifice much that is good to dedicate themselves to what is best. Robert Palmer said in and interview, "In my model of management, there is very little wiggle room. If you want a management job, they you have to accept the responsibility and accountability that goes with it." He is really talking not about management but the cost of leadership.
If leaders have to give up to go up, then they have to give up even more to stay up. Have you ever considered how infrequently teams have back-to-back champion seasons? The reason is simple: If a leader can take a team to the championship game and win it, he often assumes he can duplicate the results the next year without making changes. He becomes reluctant to make additional sacrifices in the off-season. But what gets a team to the top isn't what keeps it there. The only way to stay up is give up even more. Leadership success requires continual change, improvement, and sacrifice. "For everything you have missed, you have gained something else; and for everything you gain, you lose something." Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Sacrifice is the rule of leadership, yet nothing is more rewarding that leadership. Helping others follow a vision, helping them realize more than they ever could have dreamed of without your leadership is priceless. Of course leadership is rewarding financially in the end, it isn't what you get out of it, it is about who you become.
It's too bad so many of our leaders in name or title only have it all backwards.