Five Hidden Emotions of Many Leaders

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Ron Edmondson reveals the hidden emotions of leaders and advises leaders to be honest about their shortcomings, weaknesses, fears and pressures. Being honest helps attract loyal followers.

The Hidden Emotions of Leadership

As leaders, we aren’t always honest about how we are feeling. It’s almost as if there’s an unwritten rule that we have to hide our true emotions If people knew what we were really feeling, they may not respect us, they may not follow us and, just being candid, they may not even like us. (Which to some leaders is the biggest fear.) I’ve learned through working with dozens of pastors and leaders the last few years that, if we are not careful, leadership can become a game we play. One leader tries to impress another leader and all leaders, at one time or another, try to impress the people we are attempting to lead. Part of the key to “winning the game” is supposedly the leader bluffing everyone into thinking he or she has everything within his or her sphere of responsibility under control.

Leader, be honest. How often has that been true? No denying, there is high expectation for leaders to be excellent in their roles. I’m not trying to lump more pressure on leaders, but I believe that many times, if we were honest about the pressures we face, about our own shortcomings, weaknesses and fears, we would be better grounded to face them. We would also attract loyal followers who would be more willing to help fill in the gaps of our leadership.

Wouldn’t it be easier if we dropped the game playing and revealed the true emotions we have in leadership? Call me a snitch if you want, but I’m breaking the silence. Be honest if you can often identify with any of these hidden emotions.

Here are five hidden emotions of many leaders:

I don’t know what to do – Okay, what’s new? Leadership takes people places they’ve never been, that often includes the leader. If things are staying the same you won’t need a leader. Unchartered waters mean learning on the job at times. Many leaders drown in their own ignorance, refusing to ask for help. Great leaders know they don’t have all the answers and are willing to seek input from others. Seek a mentor. Hire a coach or consultant. Recruit a board of advisers. Get another degree. Keep learning. It’s part of maturing as a leader.

I can’t keep up – Duh! You’re leading. That means you’re going somewhere. The pace of good leadership in a rapidly changing world is often mind-boggling. The sense of being overwhelmed should not be a secret. In fact, if one is walking by faith, it should be a necessity. Learning to navigate through untested waters, and growing from the experience, is a part of successful leadership. Find the help you need now. It starts by admitting you need help.

I’m afraid – Seriously, who wouldn’t be? If things are growing (or declining), demands are building and there are days with more questions than answers, human emotions are only natural. And, fear seems like the most logical one. Follow King David’s advice: when you’re afraid, trust in God. You may be scared. He’s not. Cast your cares upon Him. He’s got the whole world in His hands. Your situation won’t cause Him to be dismayed. Be bold and admit your fears to a few trusted advisers. Allow others to speak reality and strength into your life. You can do this!

I don’t know if I’m in the right place – It’s common for leaders to question their position at times. It could be they have done all they were called to do. It could be they are bored. It could be God is stirring their hearts for something new. It could simply be a temporary emotion. Don’t suppress the emotion. Press into it and figure out the source of the emotion. It may lead to something good. Allow others to help you discern and listen for the heart of God on the matter.

I don’t feel appreciated or respected – Every leader needs respect. It’s what fuels us many days. Knowing we have a team of people willing to follow us into the unknown fuels our desire to lead even better. Consider why you feel this way. Is it an insecurity on your part or is it warranted by your actions? Regardless of the reason, this emotion has tremendous power to derail good leadership. Great leaders admit they don’t have all the answers, but, at the same time, they are confident in who they are and what God has called them to do. Most people will follow a humble, but confident leader. My best advice is to lead well, keep improving, show people you genuinely care and give them something worth following. In spite of how you feel, if you’re leading like that, they’ll respect you. If not, they wouldn’t respect anyone.

Who is willing to be honest today? Which of these is your current, most hidden emotion? What did I leave out? 

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