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15 Signs That You Are A Brave Leader

15 Signs That You Are A Brave Leader

Leadership isn’t always what’s it’s cracked up to be. Do unto others may be the “Golden Rule,” but leaders shine when they build others up, inspiring innovation rather than criticizing creativity. Discipline is a huge factor in rising as a leader, and the first seven of these 15 signs that you are a brave leader come from what I learned in Basic Combat Training for the U.S. Army. The rest I’ve gleaned from experience and thinking back on those who have most encouraged my own success in life.

1. Brave leaders recognize and appreciate loyalty.

A brave leader is one unafraid to stand up for what is right, and staying loyal to those who share your vision means withstanding some of the hard times. Loyalty is easy when everyone agrees, but brave leaders stay loyal even when it looks like their team may lose.

2. Duty to get the job done.

Quitting is often easy, but giving up always signals weakness because the leaders will adhere to a sense of duty and do what it takes to get the job done. It may not be perfect and it may not even be successful, but duty means doing the job to the best of one’s ability. No one becomes a leader without this quality.

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3. Respect the attitudes of your enemies.

The bravest leaders respect their enemies. More than a dedication to “keep your enemies closer,” those who learn from and respect their enemies learn to see things from the other points of view. While you still may disagree, you take on a leadership role that is based in respect, which is admirable and shows strength.

4. Selfless service means serving more than yourself.

Those who strive to be known as brave leaders rarely succeed because the inherent attitude takes away from what makes people rise. Serving others and putting the needs of the many above yourself is a sign of a brave leader. Self sacrifice can mean running into a burning house to rescue a kitten, but it can also mean passing up a promotion to be more available to your children. Acting selflessly in the service of others is a sure sign of leadership.

5. Honor yourself as well as those around you.

Soldiers learn to honor their country and represent its flag by fighting for what is “right,” and while that sounds worthy of chest-pounding, honor at its core means respect. If a leader wants to prove him or herself brave, giving respect is the best way to get it back. Honor your coworkers as well as the community.

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6. Act with integrity and go above and beyond.

One of the single most important aspects to leadership is the ability to act with integrity. Doing not only what you say you will do when you say you will do it proves you as a reliable and trustworthy individual. Even when no one is watching, doing the right thing and maintaining that sense of integrity creates leaders from the inside out.

7. Personal courage shows others how to face fear.

Leaders who act with personal courage show others how to face fear because they swallow their pride and find ways to do what has to be done. Some of the most difficult things to do for some can seem easy to others, but when fear stalls action, a leader has failed.

8. Lead by example.

Telling other people what to do, how to do it and when to do it pales in comparison to the brave leaders who take charge and quietly do what needs to be done. Leading by example conquers hypocrisy and though it sometimes take longer to get recognized, those who persevere do rise as leaders simply because all along they’ve done what needed to be done.

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9. Take responsibility for your actions.

Truly brave individuals as well as leaders understand that taking responsibility for your actions in both good and bad situations shows strength. Blaming others and throwing coworkers under the metaphorical bus is no way to act as a leader. Cowards blame others.

10. Foster creativity.

Creativity cannot be forced. To foster others’ creativity, leaders relax and allow things to happen. Not in a chaotic way, but an atmosphere that endures the incubation process encourages ideas to come forward.

11. Seek compassion more than perfection.

Perfection and striving for it cause some to stifle. Brave leaders will realize that part of the process is trial and error. Perfection is virtually unattainable, while compassion encourages others to keep trying. Through practice and sharpening of skills, we become more perfect at our craft.

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12. Listen to people who work for you as much as those you work for.

Ideas from those on the front lines of any business can create a groundswell that lead your company into the future. Even major corporations have taken ideas for new products and recipes from cashiers. The fact that it doesn’t happen more often means better systems should be instated for gathering the ideas because those working in different aspects of the business have insight that can lead to innovation. Brave leaders will capitalize on that by listening when other executives might criticize.

13. Inspire greatness by never acting small.

No greatness comes without failure. Rarely does something great come from the actions of one person, so remember to treat others in a way that shows their failures are steps on the path to success.

14. Reward confidence in others.

When you notice that others follow your lead and act with confidence, make sure to take the time to reward them. Encouraging others inspires them and leaders are remembered for how they built others up.

15. Provide recognition rather than seek it.

Similarly to rewarding others’ confidence, work toward recognizing their achievements both small and large. Leaders quite often go unsung, but the teachers and mentors who mean the most to those who enjoy success remember. Part of being a brave leader means you are the one to recognize others even when you don’t enjoy the awards personally.

Featured photo credit: morguefile via mrg.bz

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Published on January 16, 2019

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

  • Are you a great strategist?
  • Are you an effective planner?
  • Is Project Management your strength?
  • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
  • Are you the ideas person?
  • Is Implementation your strength?

Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

4. Take Time for Planning

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

You can take the time to think about:

  • What’s the purpose of the project?
  • How Important is it?
  • When does it need to be delivered by?
  • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
  • What are the KPIs?
  • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
  • Who is working on this project?
  • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
  • What tolerances can I add in?
  • What are the review stages?
  • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

5. Focus on Priorities

Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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    The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

    If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

    If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

    6. Take Time Out

    To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

    If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

    Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

    In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

    Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

    7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

    I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

    Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

    If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

    8. Stop Multitasking

    Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

    So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

    When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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    If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

    9. Work in Blocks of Time

    To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

    I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

    Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

    Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

    Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

    Then take another 10-minute break.

    Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

    By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

    10. Get Rid of Distractions

    Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

    “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

    Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

    If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

    11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

    You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

    Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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    Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

    12. Take a Time Audit

    Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

    Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

    You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

    Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

    Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

    At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

    If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

    13. Protect Your Confidence

    It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

    When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

    Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

    When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

    Final Words

    A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

    The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

    If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

    Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

    Reference

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