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You’re in the Arena and You’re Doing Fine


A friend recently lamented to me that he didn’t feel he was as good at leading as he should be. He is something of a perfectionist and so I know it bothers him that he isn’t a flawless leader; as if there was such a thing.

Leadership success depends on many different factors. Some a leader can control; many he can’t. Leadership is about people and is seldom neat, orderly, and completely predictable. In fact, it’s often quite messy and a leader questioning his or her ability or their effectiveness in the position is common.

At some time in their leadership career, usually several times, every good leader I know has had some apprehension about whether they were a good leader. Rest assured that if you experience that apprehension, you’re probably doing pretty well. There are some leaders who never question themselves and they tend to be less effective. When you’re feeling a little unsure, ask these questions.

  1. Have you set challenging goals for your team and is your team accomplishing those goals?
  2. Does the team function as a team, or is it just a collection of individuals?
  3. Is the team able to have passionate discussion about how to accomplish goals without generating drama and negative conflict?
  4. Does the team make decisions on their own or do they feel they have to come to you for answers on every small matter?

If you can answer yes to these questions, you’re probably doing okay.

There is no shortage of books available on the subject of leading people. Many make it seem like there is a magic formula and if everything isn’t running smoothly, you aren’t doing it right. Many of those authors are forming those opinions from observation, free of the necessity of actually making decisions and dealing with the day-to-day issues you face.

Tom Deierlein, a friend and fellow training facilitator likes to say that leadership is easy, leading is hard. He’s absolutely right and it’s natural to question yourself, but you have agreed to enter the arena and strive to be a good leader. It isn’t always easy, and you will make mistakes. But you will also learn from those mistakes and you and your team will be better for it.



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