The leader’s journey is often filled with surprises. Things that we believed that just weren’t so, things we just didn’t see coming, things that we overlooked or forgot. Dan Rockwell shares 4 surprises all leaders face. Which of these are surprises for you?

Guest Post by Dan Rockwell

Surprise #1: Weight invigorates the right people.

Challenge energizes aspiration.

Talent finds ease unfulfilling. Aspirational people seek to shine.

Delegate to aspiration. People who want to learn and get ahead crave new responsibility. Don’t delegate to know-it-alls unless they already know how to do the work.

Tip: Add support to challenge. Informal check-ins feel like you care as long as you don’t meddle. Ask, “What do you need to move your project forward?”

Surprise #2: Things get worse before they get better.

New people reduce productivity at first. It takes time to learn policies, procedures, and team dynamics. A new team of high performers will struggle to excel.

Success is about relationships. Healthy relationships don’t pop out of a magician’s hat.

Tip: A superstar in the last job might struggle in a new position.

Surprise #3: You can’t pedal faster when you’re maxed out.

Pedaling faster works when you aren’t giving your best.

Your first inclination is to jump in and get busy, but you end up frazzled, discouraged, resentful, and unproductive.

Stop giving yourself more work and expecting to thrive. Think who needs to do this, NOT how can I do this.

You earned a promotion by taking on new responsibilities; you thrive in leadership by giving responsibilities to others.

Surprise #4: Rest is the secret to success when you’re working hard.

You’re never at your best when you’re exhausted.

Take short breaks during the day and sleep well at night. Elite athletes rest before the big game because peak performance requires rest.

Manage energy, not time. (Loehr & Schwartz)

Time can’t be managed, but you can manage work-rest ratios.

What surprises have you noticed in leadership?