7 Struggles Leaders Often Have but You Don't Have To
Don't let your days give you headaches.
Show me one person who has never had a headache from working with others.
He probably does not exist!
Even if you like working with your coworkers, they can be a real pain in the neck. Don’t play cool all the time and pretend to be a friendly team.
Instead, you need to learn to deal with struggles as they come. If not, you might have to cope with negative emotions and headaches.
1. Clear direction and the same page
Leaders have a vision. But not every leader can translate it into a direction and bring people together.
One statement can mean different things to people. You say A, and your teammates understand B and behave differently. People often come up with ideas of how to do it and drift away. Leaders worry about team alignment. They should. It is an issue.
What to do: Don't expect to be understood; expect to be misunderstood. Speak the same language as the person/people you talk to. Ask questions to see if everyone agrees and clear out blind spots. There are always some!
2. Balancing hands-on or hands-off
You want to be there for your team but not micromanage. Leaders struggle with giving no or too much attention to others.
How can you show you care but also trust your coworkers so they can do their jobs?
What do to: Maximize your value! Work on stuff no one else can do and delegate based on the skills you have in your team. Create a culture of help - you work with your team, but they help each other as well, so they do not rely on you all the time. #collaboration
3. Developing others
You are busy every day. You deal with problems and juggle tasks, meetings, and emails. It is tiring. Plus no one has really taught you how to develop others. What do people want?
You were not really ‘developed’ either. You had to figure it out alone. I still remember a moment when I was a manager for a week. One colleague asked me when our coaching would start. I looked like Morty:
What do to: Clarify roles. Listen to them. What do they like or dislike? What do they want to achieve? Challenge them and stretch their skills. People won't grow if they do what is in their comfort zone. Let them fail.
4. Guiding a change
Whenever there is a change, people freak out. No. Not again!
Leaders with a vision often initiate change. Yet, they fail to communicate well. The bright future is in their heads, but it needs more influence and alliance-building to push them forward in a successful manner.
You don’t have time for proper communication often. It’s happening, and people don’t understand WHY. It is demotivating when your team does not support you.
What to do: Plan it! Use BECAUSE a lot and communicate generously. Answer questions and validate feelings. Help them find positives and get excited about what’s coming. Don’t forget to get the right nods from others. Their support brings you closer to acceptance.
Feedback gives leaders headaches. They dread difficult conversations and avoid them as much as possible. It sometimes makes people upset or hurt.
Most managers only give bad news and do not appreciate their team members enough. Plus, feedback meetings are quite formal and ‘serious’. Needless to say, leaders in general suffer from not getting enough feedback from themselves.
What do to: Agree with your team that feedback is part of a collaboration. Everyone gives feedback. Feedback is accountability and appreciation. As a leader, you might need to teach others how to provide feedback, but this investment will pay off!
6. Being authentic to yourself
Can you be yourself when leading a team? People think they need to fit into a mold and not show how they really are. They suffer from pretending.
How much do you have to tone yourself down to be respected but true to yourself? Will people like you for who you are? You might not be the most positive person in the world. You may not like leading every team meeting or taking your team out for bowling. So what?
What to do: Letting people get to know you can make you uncomfortable. But hey, you save some acting. What do you like or don’t? What humor do you have? That you forget things or arrive late to meetings? Or that some days you prefer working alone? Personalities differ, and so what?
7. Hiring and firing
‘Right fit for a team’ is an enigma. You never know who you hired until you start working with them. I hired super smart and skilled people but fired them because they did not perform well.
Hiring takes time, and when it fails, leaders are under pressure. Likewise, when you have to fire someone, it is not a pretty business. Hiring and firing are huge struggles.
What to do: Hire people for skills and attitudes. Positive people willing to learn might be better than seasoned pros. If it is necessary to say goodbye, do so sooner rather than later. Don’t experiment for too long. You and your team lose energy as a result. Sometimes it doesn't work.
No more headaches
Teamwork is fun. Keep it that way. When members go over your head, something has to change. You do not have to do everything alone.
Always remember that you need to maximize your value! So, don’t slip into daily headaches, office politics, and strong emotions.
You can deal with everything that comes your way without taking it with you on weekends and battling sleepless nights.
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