Good leaders recognise that they face challenges every day, from both internal and external sources. Many challenges are brought about by change and recognising the challenges will help us to navigate them.
Having worked with hundreds of leaders over the last thirty years, the common challenges I see are:
Stepping back so others can step up
Stepping back is often harder for new leaders because they feel the need to fix every problem themselves. This takes leaders away from the more important aspects of their role, but they often feel they are the best person to fix the problem. The challenge is to develop others so they are able to step up and allow you to step back.
Staying confident during setbacks
When things don’t go as planned, it can be difficult to stay committed to a project or initiative. To gain the respect and trust of others, it’s vital to be confident in your decision-making and move forward. Believe in yourself and your ability to make the right decisions.
Being respected and liked
Some leaders believe that to be respected they can’t be liked. The two are not mutually exclusive. Being respected doesn’t mean you can’t treat people well, and treating people well will keep them motivated and productive.
When managers are promoted into a leadership role above their peers, at first it can be challenging for everyone. Remember that being good at what you do will earn you respect. Being well liked but unable to meet your key performance indicators and deliver results won’t keep you in a leadership role for long.
People vs. the company
The next challenge is balancing the needs of your team vs. needs and goals of the company. The task is knowing that you won’t succeed in the long term if you can’t balance both. If your team isn’t behind you then it’s likely that you won’t achieve the goals needed to stay in a leadership role. On the other hand, if you put the team ahead of corporate goals and strategy it’s likely that you will be replaced.
Motivation is, and always will be, an internal juggle. You need to work out what motivates you and ensure that you put aside enough time each day or week to keep yourself motivated. One of my suggestions for leaders is to always stay focused on the WHAT rather than the WHY of your role. Having a purpose will keep you motivated.
Time management and focus
It’s no secret that the more senior your role, the busier you become. There are more demands on your time because there are problems to be solved, strategies to develop, results to be improved and, of course, people to meet with.
Ensure that your time is spent on activity that produces value to the organisation and your team. If a task can be delegated, do so. I recommend asking yourself each day, what is the most important thing we need to accomplish today and this week. Put that at the top of your to-do list and share it with your team. Communication is vital for strong leadership, and when you communicate your goals it allows everyone work towards common goals.
Every leader is different and struggles with unique issues. What are yours? If you need help developing the leadership capabilities of your business feel free to contact us. We’d love to help.