The last few months of my professional experience and interaction with company employees has been well……CHALLENGING. We’ve grown fast, adding people, increasing production. That is good. However, growing fast means you add people fast. Some are very good, others are well……..CHALLENGING.
As I reflect back o the last few months, I realized that I have to remember my own self-management. I realized that being a leader is well…..CHALLENGING. I found that leadership is truly a 24/7 job. In fact, leaders must practice the art of influence every time, all the time. If you sway, you will fall back into the same practices of those you lead.
Here is an example;
Due to our growth, we opened an additional manufacturing facility. That meant we needed leaders and employees. We tapped into a retired individual that was familiar with a lot of our executives and had significant experience in manufacturing. It meant that he would be in charge of securing the location, ensuring the building was ready for manufacturing and recruiting people to build the product. This was all accomplished, however the way he went about accomplishing this was not what I expected. For one, he went to his former employer and convinced a large group to come over and work for us. This occurred without any discussions or insight into our hiring process. That meant that we had employees showing up for work without being fully authorized and without going through orientation, etc. This frustrated me greatly. In fact, I immediately grew dissatisfied and refused to accommodate him. He continued to defy our policies and procedures and was causing a lot of dissension between employees. I found myself resisting his ideas and refusing to support him. This was greatly affecting who I was as a leader. It was noticeable and my attitude was not very good. My employees closest to me were asking what was wrong with me, why was I letting this guy get to me?
I realized that I was the problem. That I had the knowledge and ability to immediately change this situation. I was the company leadership example. I mean, I train on leadership. Employees were looking to me for direction and they were watching my reactions to this guy’s actions.
As I began to think and meditate on the situation, I realized that I had done a poor job of self-management. I had temporarily walked away from what I know about leadership and the very things that I teach others.
I realized that a leader’s greatest challenge is self-management. I also found that my leadership must be right on for others to follow. I must alway add value, in every situation in order to influence people. Remember, leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less. I needed to be a strong leader, influencing this person to follow the rules, to communicate his thoughts and desires, to provide the required feedback (positive or negative). I realized that if I lead myself the correct way, others will follow. If I do not lead, or if you lead poorly, you’ll push people away. Even those who you consistently influence become frustrated. They see your frustration and act in a similar manner. Eventually, you will push them away. These are the very people you need as examples for those who aren’t on board yet.
As we consider self-management, I like to follow the three areas as provided by John Maxwell. Here they are, with my flair and take.
- Emotions – Like anyone else, leaders experience powerful emotions. However, good leaders know when to display emotions and when to delay them. I often hear people question leaders that show powerful emotions. I say that those emotions must be timely. They must be displayed in the appropriate situations. The wrong emotion at the wrong time, can do significant damage. The right emotion at the right time, can produce incredible results. Leaders must hold their emotions in check until an appropriate time and place. Remember, the ultimately goal in leadership is adding value. Emotions can add or detract value based on the way they are displayed.
- Thoughts – Leaders are thinkers. Thoughts are critical to making sound decisions. If you are too busy to spend time in thought, your decision making ability is affected. A good leader must allow time for gathering and organizing our thoughts. Throughout the day, write down those things you need to revisit. Set aside some time daily to resist those items and think through them. In fact, I suggest that you spend time weekly removed from distraction and meditate on those items. I really believe successful leaders are thinkers. By thinking through things, you are able to form great questions. I believe great questions are the sign of a good leader.
- Energy – Successful people are high energy people. However, high energy levels can create problems, both for you and for those who you influence. I am driven to accomplishment. I tend to focus on achievement. In fact, I measure my daily performance by what I accomplished. I tend to over-achieve and overwhelm people. In my training with the John Maxwell group, I realized that I must focus my efforts on what provides the greatest result. To ensure I focus on the right things, I start every day reviewing my calendar and identifying the one or two activities that require the greatest amount of energy. I focus my energy on them and sandbag the rest of the day. No I don’t give them less effort, but I am slow and steady to complete these projects. It is ok if they don’t get finished that day. I cannot afford to expend my energy on situations or people pulling me down as a leader. I must always approach those in a positive manner that results in influence and ultimately, my leadership.
Being in leadership is well…….CHALLENGING!! As leaders, we must always remember to self-manage our own actions and ensure we are always leading. whether it is a situation or a person, the way we react is a direct result of our leadership frame of mind. Follow the three things mention above (emotions, thoughts and energy) to ensure you are self-managing yourself. I found if I follow these three areas, I am prepared to handle any situation that may come my way.
Jim Rhone once said, “The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.” I think if we can take hold of this, we can all be effective leaders who are up to the challenge.
Become a good self-manager and become a good leader.