ever since I was a child, people told me I was a natural leader. what I've learned since then is all this means is I have some energy, the ability to persuade people to do things and an instinctual bend toward being a total bossypants.
I've been an "official" leader for just over three years now. in that time, I've learned that there are three really distinct parts of leadership. I only excel at the first one: having and communicating a vision and team mobilization.
I'm currently working on the middle and most difficult phase of leadership: maintaining excellence and momentum. and I absolutely suck at this. once the excitement and newness of a "mission" has passed, the real work of team development and growth begins. this requires copious amounts of patience and acceptance of setbacks; not my strong suits. I am easily frustrated that people don't stick to the vision. and I have to say I've had my share of imperious "let them eat cake" moments. like I said, I'm working on it...
lately I've been thinking about the third phase of leadership: letting go of control and passing on the reins. the happiest moments of my work day are when staff show brilliance to the point that I'm confident they can one day take over and continue to move the team forward. so when I have those moments of dreaming about retirement or fantasizing about the perfect vision/mobilization-only job, I know that I can walk away in peace.