I’ll Do Anything For You But I Won’t Do That!


Did you take on a leadership position for the right reasons? 

There are many reasons you might put yourself in a position of Leadership. Whatever they are, you may not be willing to be what you need to do.

And that may come at the risk of catastrophic results. 


What Leaders Won’t Do

I’ve always been amazed at what leaders will do for their organizations in my career. So many will spend countless late nights working, endure long and gruelling travel schedules, and even sacrifice their financial resources, all to increase the likelihood, even slightly, that their enterprises will succeed.

Sadly, these efforts often come at the expense of their health, families, and sanity.

The thing that amazes me more than what leaders will do is what they WON’T do: And that is to endure emotional discomfort at work.

Though this may sound innocuous, there is nothing trivial about it. 

This determination to avoid emotional discomfort is the single most costly and surprising Leadership trI’veI’ve witnessed in business during my career.

Let me offer an analogy – Imagine that someone spilled a coffee in the lobby of your building. No one would call the CEO down to clean it up. But when a political or interpersonal mess occurs, there is no one better to clean it up quickly and efficiently, and eliminate the possibility of collateral damage, than the CEO. 

Unlike the janitor, whose job is to clean up spills, many leaders complain about doing this part of their job.

In many cases, they stand back, hope and wait for the problem to go away.

Or for someone else to deal with it.


Why does this happen? 

It happens due to the natural fear of conflict and accountability. But I think some of it is related to a subtle, perhaps subconscious, sense of entitlement among leaders.

Consider the most unfortunate example that I have come across.

I recently partnered with a company of 1,500 employees and a market evaluation of $1B struggling with rapid growth as they grew from a high-impact team into an Enterprise. As the company developed, the ties that made them high-performing became so stretched its goals and objectives were frustrated. Employees lost trust and confidence in Leadership, and they became disconnected from the mission and objectives. 

Critically, they faced these issues while undergoing an expansion that would grow its size by 30-50%. While Leadership was 90%  certain that the expansion project would be on time, on budget and successful, employees were 75% sure this would fail. 

When I reported what I saw back to the client, the CEO angrily asked: “Why is this a problem? I Am The CEO. If I want it fixed, I’d say so!”

When surveyed, the employees identified low leadership competencies, a poor leadership culture, and gaps in supervisory leadership skills. Yet the CEO wanted it fixed by fiat, chose not to accept responsibility, and actively blamed confused managers for the problem. 

I’ve seen many reasonable people who work close to the top of those organizations and avoid uncomfortable situations.

Do they believe they have a right to avoid unpleasant tasks?

Do they feel that they can delegate or abdicate the roles they do not enjoy?

A healthy organization is one where leaders seek out discomfort and enter danger whenever they can, knowing they can accomplish three things:

    1. To set an example for others to do the same.
    2. To improve their level” of “comfort with discomfort.
    3. Most importantly, they’ll reduce the impact of the organization’s problems.

Organizations led by those who embrace discomfort will have the advantage.

Based on my work with Leaders from the Corporate, Nonprofit and Public sectors, these theories and models apply to anyone interested in Teamwork, Building Better Leaders, Leading Healthier Organizations and Achieving Remarkable Results. 

I sincerely hope it helps your team overcome any messy organizational issues, whatever the case may be. Your team can achieve more than any one individual member could ever imagine doing alone.


That, after all, is the real power of a Healthy Organization.

Remember, Leadership is a choice, not a position so enjoy the read and the journey.