What do you struggle with as a leader? What are the main challenges you are facing?
We constantly deal with different challenges, both in our personal and professional lives. But it’s how we respond to them that makes a difference.
Being resilient, having a growth mindset, and adapting to change is essential to overcoming your fears and challenges.
Here are some common challenges of leadership and some of our tips to overcome them:
1. Impostor syndrome
At some point, we all have heard that voice in our heads that tells us “we are not good enough”, “we can’t do it, we will fail”…
That voice is born out of fear, fear of stepping out of your comfort zone into an arena that is unfamiliar and uncomfortable. But we all have the ability to learn, evolve and improve.
So when you hear that negative voice, just be aware that it’s only a thought, a moment in time that isn’t necessarily a reflection of your own reality. When you believe these thoughts and feel the emotional grip of them take over you, that’s when you make them a reality, and that’s when they start affecting your behaviours and decision-making process.
But you have the ability to control these thoughts, manage them and rationalise them so that they don’t become all encompassing for you.
We call this the ‘Success psyche’. By understanding the process of ‘emotional management’, you gain the ability to control your thoughts and emotions and their impact on your behaviours.
Tips to overcome impostor syndrome:
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Instead of focussing on the negative outcomes, try to look at the situation as an opportunity to learn, grow and expand your horizons and understanding.
Recognise your super strengths and accept that all you have learnt in your journey to date, will help you in your present and allow you to create a better future.
Ensure you surround yourself with positive people who can inspire, guide and support you and from whom you can learn how to overcome these situations.
2. Fear of vulnerability
It’s easier to fall into the belief that leaders need to have all the answers. When the opposite usually is true. Having all the right answers is not what makes a great leader, In fact, I would challenge anyone that professes to have all the right answers, as they never do.
Being humble, open and honest, are essential qualities of leadership, but being like that can also be one of the biggest challenges. There is no shame in admitting mistakes, asking for help, or admitting you don’t know something. All these small actions show that you are authentic, genuine and, at times, vulnerable.
These are strong characteristics that demonstrate a level of transparency that is often lost amongst most leaders. If people are to trust you, then they need to believe in you and believe that you will always be honest and true to them.
Having excellent communication and regular dialogue with your people at work, coupled with being honest and open with everyone, is the best policy for a healthy organisational culture.
3. Fear of letting go
Sometimes we can fall into the trap of micromanaging. This is not always born out of mistrust for other people, but it’s common to feel safer when you know what’s happening and have more control over it.
But micromanaging can often be a really negative approach, and it can hurt your organisation deeply. One big challenge of a leader is learning to let go and delegate. It would be impossible for one person to do everything.
You need to trust the people in your team, give them space to be creative, do their jobs and fulfil their potential.
Some tips that may help:
Set up clear goals, plans and strategies.
Have clear, constant and good communication, so everyone involved in the project knows what’s happening. Weekly updates, or even more often if needed. We do this at Optimist Performance, we share our goals for the week, but everyone is accountable for their parts.
4. Burnout or stress
Another big challenge is burnout or the feeling of being overwhelmed by everything. It can be challenging to deal with many different tasks at once and maintaining a positive attitude.
Having a clear understanding of your purpose can help you identify what you need to focus on, whilst helping remove the ‘noise’ that may be distracting you.
Some tips to fight burnout and feeling overwhelmed:
Make sure you have time for yourself, no distractions. You can even set up a “Me hour” on your calendar.
Find someone to share your burden with. Can be a colleague, someone in your organisation with whom you can share some of the responsibilities.
Be aware of your thoughts. When we feel stressed or tired, we are bound to have more negative and pessimistic thoughts. Also, we are more prone to believe them, which is why you need to make an effort to be aware of your thoughts and feelings during stressful or challenging times.
5.Dealing with change
Humans are not great at dealing with change; we like stability and consistency. So it can be overwhelming and scary to deal with uncertainty.
It’s crucial that you take some time to think, reflect and respond accordingly instead of trying to move at a million miles an hour with everything. Rushed decisions tend to end up in mistakes, so take time to pause and recognise what’s important to you.
Having a well-designed ‘system of urgency’ that recognises what is more pressing and what can wait is essential when dealing with change and uncertainty.
Be open to new and creative ideas. If you are willing to try new approaches, it could help you develop better solutions to problems, so embrace diverse and creative thinking.
This is also really important when dealing with the fear of failure or the fear of making the wrong decisions.
Sometimes all we can do is try our best, and occasionally we will fail. But it doesn’t mean we are failures; we just haven’t figured out the right answer yet and learnt one way that it can’t be done… otherwise known as experience!
6. Inspire and develop others
Most leaders find it difficult to keep their teams inspired and motivated continually.
The key in these cases is knowing the people you work with, what they are passionate about, and what their goals are. Having this knowledge will give you insights as to how you can inspire and motivate them to achieve their full potential, by feeding and delivering on these goals for them.
We all face difficulties, challenges, fears, but we are stronger than them. It is how we react to them that defines us.
“Courage is not the absence of fear. It is feeling the fear and doing it anyway.” – TJ Hoisington.