“Why can’t he just get it?”
I hear this lament over and over from women who want their husbands to be strong leaders … both in and out of the bedroom.
Usually, there have been conversations where she has asked her husband to take more of a leadership role and she’s frustrated when he doesn’t pick up the ball and run with it. Or at least, he doesn’t run fast enough.
So, why can’t he just get it?
Why Is It So Difficult for Him to Lead?
Learning to lead takes huge amounts of energy.
Leading people is hard work and takes a lot of practice. That’s why so few people are good at it. It doesn’t come naturally to most of us, and we have to deliberately and mindfully cultivate leadership in order to lead well.
Leading means choosing between an array of decisions with no assurance that you will make the right one, and the certainty that if you make the wrong one, the responsibility rests wholly on your shoulders.
It’s simply easier to shift the risk of decision-making to someone else.
Leaders are made, not born.
We live pretty cushy lives in the western world. Think about it for a minute … as he was growing up, how much responsibility did your husband have for other people’s welfare? Not much, right? Pouring out the Frosted Flakes for his little sister? Taking turns with the Atari?
Contrast that to my dad’s generation where as the eldest of eight children, he became the ‘man of the family’ at ten years old when his dad left home to find work in another state. No electricity and no running water. The only heat they had came from the wood he and his brothers chopped. Meat was scarce unless they managed to bring down some game, and ammo wasn’t cheap, so you didn’t want to miss your shot.
In that type of situation, decisions and choices have to be made in order to survive. My dad was thrust into leadership at ten years old because of conditions that simply don’t exist anymore in first world countries.
We live in a fat society, and fat societies don’t produce strong leaders.
Leaders must learn self-discipline before they can instill discipline in others.
We live in a world of immediate gratification, and the concept of delaying pleasure or denying ourselves what we want is considered quaint and old-fashioned. Most of us don’t know what it is to discipline ourselves because we’ve never had to actually do it.
In order to lead, your husband has to learn to discipline himself first. That is a skill that is not taught much in our society, and it takes time to learn.
Learning to be a good leader doesn’t happen in a vacuum. There are pre-requisites he needs in order to be successful.
3 Things Your Husband Needs In Order to Lead
One thing I’ve learned from coaching men to become stronger leaders is that it takes an enormous amount of energy. These are guys who have taken the initiative to seek out coaching and thus are very motivated and committed, and still they struggle to internalize leadership. There usually comes a point about midway through the 12-week program where they are simply exhausted. That’s the point where we take a week off and do nothing except rest and recharge.
Your husband needs to do the things that bring him energy if he’s going to be able to lead. He has to put on his own oxygen mask before he’s able to help someone else. If there are medical or structural issues that are draining his energy, they have to be addressed before he’ll be able to master leadership.
He needs to put on his own mask first.
In order to be a good leader, your husband has to practice. And then practice some more. He is trying to change the neural pathways developed over a lifetime and that means changing his behavior. He needs to practice at home and at work. He needs to practice with you, with the kids, with co-workers, with clients, with friends and with family, even with strangers he encounters in everyday life. I talk more about specific ways to change neural patterns in I Want Sex, He Wants Fries.
Leadership isn’t a coat he puts on and off, it needs to become a part of who he is.
To be a leader, you must have confidence in your own decisions. If your husband lacks confidence in himself, he can’t be confident in his decisions. He needs to change the things in his life that are diminishing his confidence.
Sometimes this means losing weight, building a career he can be proud of, creating financial stability, dressing better, learning a new skill, etc.
He needs to address whatever is draining his confidence first before he can throw himself into leadership.
“Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.”
Leadership takes hard work, lots of energy, and practice. If your man is willing, he can improve his leadership skills. But it’s going to take time. So, what’s your place in all this? Do you simply stand about wringing your hands while he’s learning to lead?
Take a look at the next post in the series:
The Leadership Series:
- 3 Things You Absolutely Must Do If You Want Your Husband to Step Up & Lead
- How Leadership Is Like a Striptease
- Mr. Disappearing Man – What to Do When Your Husband Struggles to Lead
- The Loop – What’s Blocking Your Husband from Leading His Family?
- Handing Him the Keys – How to Give Your Husband the Tools He Needs to Lead Your Family