For the last couple of months I've been waiting, hoping to close some deals that would result in some nice, long term consulting gigs. That I didn't open up with "last couple of weeks" is quite telling in this case.

A really really bad day
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What happens in my world is that often I'm contacted by someone asking if I'm available for a consulting gig. If I am I say yes, they tell me the general area of the country and what I'd be doing, I agree and they tell me "okay, I'll find out more and get back to you later today."

You guessed it; that almost never happens. Sometimes they get back to me and it's a no-go, and I'm fine with that. Sometimes they get back to me the next day and that's what I'm usually expecting.

This time... well, let's just say it hasn't quite worked out that way. And it's not just one person or group, it's four of them. Last week, out of the four, I heard from only one of them, who owned up to me that a hiring freeze was implemented, even for consultants, and that's why it hadn't gone through. Thanks to the one guy; great stuff there.

Some people would say this is business as usual. I might agree and I might not agree. If I agree, it means I feel the right to do the same thing to other people. If I disagree, I might look like a whiner, but I figure that I establish myself as someone who has decided that business needs to set a higher standard for itself, or at least for me.

Yes, me. When all is said and done, I have to be concerned with me. My business and personal lives are about me, on me, and only I can address and deal with them. If I'm waiting for someone else knowing what their track record it, that's on me. If I do or don't commit to someone else, that's on me. If I don't market myself and my business, that's all on me.

What the other people are doing is defending their own self interests. They don't care about me; they care about whatever it is they can do for themselves or their own company at that moment. Truthfully, that's how they should be; I get that. It's how I should be as well.

After saying all that, how does any of it apply to being a leader? Here's something no one wants to see in print or hear anyone who does some of what I do say. When it comes to leadership, truthfully it's all about you, the leader. It's about your interests; it's always about your interests.

I hear the voices now saying "Hey, I thought it was all about the employees, the job..." Nope, no, nada, zip. Those are very important considerations for sure, but it's all about you, the leader.

Here's the rub. You the leader, to protect your own self interest, have to be ready to do whatever's necessary to take care of your interest. This means that you have to do whatever's necessary to get people to do what you need them to do for you, and by extension the company. That means making sure the people who report to you have whatever they need, get the proper training, and treated right, have their opportunity to contribute, etc.

Most leaders believe that by taking care of their own interests first it means one of two things: one, they have to do everything themselves; two, what they say goes. That's flawed thinking across the board.

Leaders don't have to do everything themselves. The role of a leader is twofold. One, your job is to think. Two, your job is to make sure people can do what you need them to do.

Leaders also don't get to dictate everything and expect their word to be law. One, it's possible that what the leader wants can't be done because it hasn't been evaluated properly. Two, be a bad enough leader and others will eventually figure out how to sabotage you, and there's not a thing you'll be able to do about it.

To recap; leaders have to think of their own self interests first. If you work with others, you do that by learning how to help them help you. If you work on your own, you have to be ready to take control of your own interests, not wait around for anyone, and get the job done. You have to take care of yourself, your own interests, because no one else will unless it's in their best interest.

Think about it this way; which one will make you feel better and work better for you in the long run?