3 Challenges of Being a Leader and How to Overcome Them
It’s lonely at the top. The burden of being a leader, responsible for your company or team, can be a lot. So why do you do it? If it is strictly for the money, chances are, you will be miserable and won’t achieve success when that’s your why. Happiness and a feeling of contentment are usually driven by something else. There has to be an inner drive to compete, to win, and more than anything, develop your team. You have to want to finish first, but with your team right beside you.
These are some of the challenges many leaders I work with face. And a few thoughts on how to overcome them.
CHALLENGE #1: THE NEED TO BE LIKED
Many new managers struggle with wanting to be liked by their teams. Liked is good. Respected is better. Leadership is a mixture of love and fear. Your team must grow to “love” you through respect and admiration. You are a symbol for them. Your actions and words are being scrutinized every moment.
“The boss didn’t say hi to me this morning! I must be getting fired… I might as well take that other job offer I have…”
We never know exactly what is going through a team members head, but our actions as leaders make a tremendous impact. “Bad days” are only allowed on rare occasions for a leader. The team looks to YOU for queues on how things are going in the world. You set the tone for the energy of the entire office if you are an effective leader. The best leaders have a great mixture of love and fear with their teams. The team expects the leader to be demanding and exacting, but also knows that those demands will result in a win and a celebration at the end.
CHALLENGE #2: CONFLICTING PRIORITIES
Often times, when in leadership, we’re expected to do as much as possible, with what we’ve got, or who we’ve got. We’re asked to push our team harder while not causing a mutiny or running everyone off. Set clear priorities and expectations. Get your team’s buy in on what the goals are, why they are important and the plan for execution. They will work much harder on plans if they have ownership in them. In addition, discuss the incentives for getting to the goal. What is the prize? Design contests around performance that have trips or dinners or parties attached to them. Celebrate the accomplishment! Teams that understand the mission, believe in it’s purpose and know they will be rewarded in the end will reach further to achieve the objective.
CHALLENGE #3: DEVELOPING PEOPLE THAT MIGHT LEAVE
Few things are as frustrating for a leader than putting your heart and soul into a team member only to have them leave. You train them on systems and processes, you teach them culture and service, you give them all of your “secrets” and then they leave. As challenging as this can be, it is a part of any business. For one, if you are truly a great leader, you are interested in developing your people. Period. If by developing them that means they are able to take new opportunities that further their life and career, outside of your team, then good for them. Chances are, someone probably gave you a similar opportunity at one time. Wouldn’t you rather develop people and have them leave than not and have them stay? As Sir Richard Branson says, “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”
If you have chosen to be a leader, remember this. Rank has its privileges. You usually make more money, have more freedom, have power, etc., however, rank has its responsibilities. You have to make decisions, you have to answer for larger issues, and most of all, you will influence people’s lives. Take the “burden” you have been given as a blessing. Make things happen for people. Take an interest in bettering all of those around you and it will come back to you tenfold.