No One Said You Would Be Easy
If you were to ask most successful leaders the toughest challenge they have had to overcome, you might think it would be something like; learning to manage people, setting direction, or solving some kind of problem.
In fact, the toughest challenge most leaders face, is learning how to deal with their own internal struggles and in managing themselves.
There is a saying, “no matter where you go, there you are”. It’s true. While you bring to any position, your skills, talents and experience, you also bring with it your biases, thoughts, feelings and emotions and sometimes all of this can get in the way of doing your best, as a leader.
Here are the main challenge areas leaders overcome in managing their internal self:
Self Confidence – Every leader struggles with self doubt, to varying levels. In fact, there is a well documented phenomena called imposter syndrome, where many leaders struggle with believing they don’t deserve to be in the positions they are. They think, at some point, people will realize they are not as good as they are letting people believe they are. This mindset can create so much self-doubt, that it can make it impossible for someone to do their job. Self confidence is about understanding the value you bring to your team and then being able to push aside the internal voice that tells you that you are not measuring up.
Which leads us to the next one…
Overcoming Fear – Leaders are expected to chart a course, and while others may doubt them, to have the conviction to know they are taking their team in the right direction. No matter how well planned, there will always be things that could not have been anticipated and when this happens, the team looks to the leader for answers. Leaders can struggle to make decisions and to give clear direction, when they let fear take over. It can be fearful to not know what could or could not happen, but overcoming fear is about understanding the strength of your team, about accepting there will be mistakes and in believing you can solve whatever comes ahead.
Which will impact the next one…
Follow Through – Ideas are only a thought, until someone has the conviction to do what it takes to make them real. As a leader, you are aware there is so much that needs to be done and so much potential, it can be hard to contain the litany of ideas being generated by you. The challenge comes in being able to take the time needed to get those ideas to fruition before moving onto the next and in being able to weed out the good from the bad ideas before unnecessarily involving the team. Follow though is about being clear on what is really important and making sure you manage your time and focus to seeing it carried through, regardless of the desire to move on. Walking the walk is far more important than talking the talk.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a leader, mother, employee, athlete or child. These are, in fact, challenges we all must overcome as people. The difference is, as we look to our leaders, we want to believe they have been able to figure it out. They want to see you as confident, decisive, and committed to doing what it takes to lead them to something better. Leaders are measured in their ability to have their teams believe they have been able to figure it out.
At its essence, the thing that sets leaders apart is their ability to lead their teams to something better, while overcoming the internal challenge to concur what it means to be human.
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