5 Hidden Emotions of Many Leaders

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 because…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 this any of these hidden emotions.

Here are 5 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 figuring 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? What are some hidden emotions many leaders face?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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30 thoughts on “5 Hidden Emotions of Many Leaders

  1. I don’t know a succinct way to put it, but how about the feeling that no one is listening? How about the people who expect you To fix a problem, but want you to fix it their way. No matter how much you talk they don’t listen, and end up getting upset, leaving the Church, and telling people the Pastor wouldn’t take time to fix their problem!

    Wow, that was actually very cathartic to put that into words! Thanks Ron!

  2. I have had each one of these feelings over and over! Including the added ones in comments – I feel like giving up, and what if I fail?
    God has been so gracious over the past year and a half of my first ministry leadership experience. After feeling all these and trying to run away from it multiple times, God has reassured me of my calling through my elders and by keeping me here, even though I kept trying to run. He has even taken away the “am I in the right place?” feeling, for now, and restored and deepened my passion for my church and community. Of course, with this revelation comes attack and I’ve struggled with these feelings even more, but with stronger confidence and perseverence. Gonna need to refer back to this post to be reminded, though!
    Thank you!
    Twitter: raquelcarlson

  3. What if I fail…

    Ron, your posts are really working my brain! Hope the move is going well, God has provided perfect weather…

  4. This is exactly what I needed to hear tonight…ironically, I have a ministry for pastors to help them realize that they are NOT superman and need to be intentional and proactive about the very REAL burnout that occurs in many of their lives; yet lately I have been feeling burned out to an extent myself. I'm trying to do a full time demanding job, involved in several ministry ventures and attempting to start up a full time coaching practice. Maybe God needed me to really experience this stuff, before I could really understand and encourage pastors/ministry leaders in the "unforced rhythms of Grace"!
    Thanks Pastor Ron, for the reminder and clear presentation of what we ALL need to hear.
    Blessings,
    Keith

  5. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. And at this time in my ministry, times a million! And,in my case, not very hidden at all. We are in a time of intensive “in-depth looking at ourselves” and I have admitted all of these things to our elders… well… except the fifth one. I actually am feeling pretty respected, at the moment. But ask me tomorrow! Almost 20 years in ministry in various roles and always these emotions are daily companions along the way. The trick, in my experience, is to be aware of them but not driven by them. I submit them honestly to the Lord and then ask for whatever I need to be faithful.
    Twitter: candobando

  6. Not just leaders need to admit this, but followers (or middle managers) also. There are many times that I'm almost paralyzed by the fact that I don't know what do & am afraid to admit it. Often I dread it, put it off, and then finally ask for advice. Once I ask the answer is given with no judgement. But the dread & fear of admitting I didn't know what to do delayed everyone. Often leaders need to remember to make it ok to ask questions. Just by saying "it's alright if you don't know what to do in this process, call me if you come up with any questions" makes that fear subside.

    Maybe it's just a "new job" thing, but switching companies & going from the person that answered everyone's questions to the person asking all the questions makes me feel inadequate & as if I've made the wrong move (am I in the right place?).

    • Yes you are right. I wrote mostly to leaders but many posts, this one for sure, speaks to all of us. Thanks

  7. I've heard that good leaders get people to look up to them. Great leaders help people look up to themselves. They help people realize they (the person) can do more than they think they can and not just in "you can do better" kind of way.

  8. “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.”

    I have always agreed with this. However, I’ve recently found it to not be true in my life. In our church I’ve tried to have leadership team structure. As part of that structure I’ve been willing to ask questions, seek counsel, and receive input. Rather than cause more respect and loyalty it caused less. One of the key people on my team decided they can’t respect me and be loyal if I have questions. They said its a sign I poor leadership. Obviously I disagree and have come to realize that this person lack maturity and understanding of what leadership is. The only reason I share this is that it isn’t that easy. Just because we are honest and open doesn’t mean people will respond positively. Should we stop being honest and open? No. But we must make sure that the people we are honest with are mature enough to handle it. Thanks for the post, I enjoyed it and agree with it.
    Twitter: Pastormikel

  9. I feel tired. So many leaders seem loathe to admit they need a break. Whether things are going well or poorly every leader needs time to recharge.