The Biggest Battle Senior Leaders Face

Executives and future executives: This post is for you. 

Last week I talked about work fulfillment. And for my first 10+ years at Hoffer plastics, my career was “up and to the right.” My “doing” was noticeable, and it was easy to check off accomplishments in my notebook — I mean I could visibly see my work translating into wins. 

Sure, some probably think I advanced because I was in the family, or that I got meetings with senior executives earlier than I would have with a different last name. There is probably truth to both. But I focused on working hard and doing good work, and I could see it having an impact. 

And let me be crystal clear. It felt really good. 

Then my sisters and I got promoted to the C-suite. Hello, problems! COVID, the downturn of the economy, etc. But looking back, I feel like those issues were relatively easy to deal with — especially compared to what I think is the biggest issue executive leaders face, which is this: 

The hardest part about being in a senior leadership position is battling YOUR OWN INSECURITY. 

That’s right. 

You have to be secure enough to actually do things WITH and THROUGH other people — the way I define leadership. 

You cannot do it FOR them. Doing it for them feels better! You get to be the hero and enjoy all the accolades, but over the long haul, it is detrimental to your culture, and your team’s development. 

Executives: It’s Not About Us

Make no mistake: I am more insecure than I let on. I like the adrenaline rush of getting involved, getting into the “game,” and scoring a win. 

But I know that the best leaders do things with and through others. They let them take the ball and score. 

It is so easy to talk about this stuff, but a lot harder to do it. 

There are more days now where I go home wondering whether I even made a difference. My work is far less measurable today but I can see its effects even more across the long time. It is the work of senior executives. 

This work is not about us. 

It is about casting vision and developing the team.