Just because you become a leader in your organization doesn’t mean that the floor won’t drop out around you. That is what you, as a leader, have been chosen to handle. In fact, it is your quest if you accept it. There are 10 issues that leaders always have to face, but with the right tact and skill, you can route a strong course and come out on top.
The fact that you have accepted a leadership role is a change all to itself, but everyday is filled with possibilities for change. Some of them are things that you have chosen and others are the luck of the draw. Your role as a leader is to not get off balance because of change. You either have to see it coming and prepare or be able to handle it on the fly because both things are inevitable.
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” – Frederick Douglass
1. Difficult People
There will always be people on your team, in your organization and in your working life who are difficult. Your goal, as a leader, is to handle them with grace and kindness. Don’t feed into them. Don’t prolong your exposure to them. Above all, don’t let them get you down.
The work environment has a lot of pressure built into it. Your ability to accept and release some of that pressure will benefit you in the long run. You can’t run at full speed 100% of the time and allowing some quieter moments that help you find balance will be paramount to your success as a leader.
3. Letting Someone Go
As a leader it will, at some point, be your job to either recommend that someone leave your organization or you are going to have to move someone on yourself. Never do this in a rash manner or under anger. Your ability to calmly make this organizational change for the better of the organization is the mark of true leadership.
4. Delivering Bad News
Products will fail, timelines won’t be met, your goals will lag—that is all just part of business, but it will be your job to tell your board or your superiors. Being able to tell bad news without drama and with clarity will allow you to find the next steps. Bad stuff happens; it is how you share it that is going to matter in your next move.
5. Staying Motivated
Sometimes as a leader you can feel your motivation for the project or the organization fall flat. It happens to the best of us, but what you need to do is muster all of the good stuff around you and get back on track. Don’t spend time dwelling on what isn’t working unless you can fix it. You won’t always be the number one cheerleader in your own mind, but your team is expecting you to be so get out there and share the enthusiasm you do have; even when you are a little off your game.
6. Culture Issues
Just because you work in an organization doesn’t mean that you don’t have issues with your culture. You might be an office that doesn’t get along well as a team, has communication issues, gossips, or has undermining team members. Whatever it is, you are going to have to deal with it as the leader. Changing cultural habits in an organization isn’t easy, but you set the tone. If you don’t want people to gossip, don’t gossip. If you want teams to work better together, you have to work well with teams. You are setting the entire tone of how the culture in your organization exists.
“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.” – @simonsinek
7. Being Respected and Being Liked
You aren’t always going to be liked. The minute you put your hand up to lead something, someone else is going to shoot you down. That is just life. Don’t get swayed by that and work to be kind and focused in your communications. Respect will come, and if you are lucky, you might even be liked.
8. Maintaining Focus
It is so easy to get distracted! Everyone wants something, is selling you something, or is trying to get you to notice them. That is part of accepting the role of leadership. Your job is to not get distracted by the shiny objects and to remain focused on the end game. You have a team to lead, a product to deliver, or a project to complete—make your plan, keep your head down and maintain focus.
9. Communication Problems
Inevitably someone is going to reply all to an email that they shouldn’t have, a team member isn’t going to get the deadline straight, or someone just isn’t going to get the memo all together. Communication issues are probably your number one stressor as a leader. Practicing your skills at being clear and brief will benefit the entire organization.
10. Handling a Dud
Every once in a while, a project just doesn’t work or the event is a bust. Don’t worry. It happens to the best of us. How you handle it is what matters. Don’t let your team go down into a spiral of self pity or blame. Just dust yourself off and figure out how the next thing is going to be awesome.
Leadership isn’t just about the hard stuff, but it is a big part of shouldering the responsibility. Each time you have to grapple with something difficult, you are practicing how to do it better because stuff will always come up. Your growth in leadership is dependent on the lessons you learn on dealing with the good and the bad.
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