ENDURING THE HARD TIMES

Thank God for the tough times. They are the reason you are there – to be the leader. If everything were going well, the people wouldn’t need you.”

JOHN MAXWELL

Last week was exhausting. I didn’t say it was terrible, but it was difficult. You know when you have one of those weeks where you get knocked down, get back up, only to be knocked down again? Well, that was me last week.

Being a Health and Safety Professional during the COVID-19 crisis is pushing every button and pulling every last string I have. Every day consist of multiple virtual conversations, meetings, and phone calls. Last week I made decisions that were contradicted; I issued a process that had many grammatical errors. And I gave people advice that was off from our company position. But one thing I can admit, is through my ability to endure and be patient, I was able to overcome my difficult week.

But on a practical level, where did I build the endurance and patience I needed to get through last week? As a leader, I look to grow my leadership capability in many ways, whether reading books, taking on challenges, creating leadership classes, or merely writing my blog. However, I base my leadership foundation on the Word of God. With this knowledge base, I can persevere through difficult challenges and difficult times.

Last week brought me to consider this bible verse. Colossians 1:11: 

11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have high endurance and patience,….

This verse gave me the answer I needed to get through last week: God’s power produces endurance and patience within us. 

What I found is endurance and patience will empower leaders:

WHEN CONFLICT ARISES

WHEN DIFFICULTY ARISES

WHEN CHALLENGES BECOME IMPOSSIBLE

WHEN A CRISIS OR TRAGEDY STRIKES

WHEN THE TEAM LOSES HOPE

A weak or passive leader would fail in everyone one of these situations. During difficult times, people want leaders who can endure the worse conditions and who patiently employ faith and grit.

If you are afraid to fail, you will never do the things you are capable of doing.

JOHN WOODEN

We are in a time where many friends, families, and colleagues are dealing with difficulties beyond measure. As leaders, we need to step up and encouraging them to endure patiently.

Will next week be better? I don’t know, but I am going to continue to patiently endure through what ever happens. By doing this, I will increase my influence and become a more effective leader creating a higher morale with those I lead. YOU CAN DO THE SAME.

You can contact Denis at dbaker@leaderinfluence.net for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture change training, DISC Behavioral consulting or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.

If it’s Lonely at The Top, Then Something’s Wrong

 

Executive-Coaching

During a recent executive coaching session, my client and I were engaged in a conversation about leadership when he made the following statement;

“I am passionate about leading my staff, but I don’t feel anyone cares or likes me.” 

It is true many leaders feel lonely. In fact, one of the most common phrases I hear during coaching sessions is: “it’s lonely at the top.”   I disagree with the context of that statement. And so does John Maxwell. In his book, Leadership Gold, John says;

“If you are lonely at the top, then you are doing something wrong.” 

As leaders, we spend our days surrounded by people, so the last thing we expect is to feel alone, but many do. Why? I believe the feeling of loneliness is a not a positional issue, but rather one of personality.

Let me take a few words y from John Maxwell’s book, Leadership Gold to explain. In his book, John says; “If you are leading others and you’re lonely, then you’re not doing it right. Think about it. If you’re all alone, that means nobody is following you. And if nobody is following you, you’re not really leading! What kind of a leader would leave everyone behind and take the journey alone”?  John Maxwell answers that question with;

“a selfish one.”

As leaders, our job is to make people better. To give them the tools and knowledge to achieve their greatest desires.

However, if you’re feeling lonely, it can lead to many things like; poor decision-making, inept problem-solving, frustration, dysfunctional teams, and angry and frustrated employees. Not to mention the internal stress that builds and eventually causes negative behavior and discord between your spouse or significant other and those within your inner circle. Success is nowhere to be found.

There is no doubt that Colin Powell’s statement; “sometimes leadership means pissing people off” is true. Leaders must hold people responsible and accountable for their actions or lack thereof.  This can cause a temporary feeling of isolation or loneliness. Jack and Suzy Welch wrote in a Business Week article: “There’s something about being a boss that incontrovertibly lends itself to isolation. I’ve learned that people dislike people who hold them accountable and will withdraw themselves. I might even say that if you’re feeling some loneliness, you might be on the right track to becoming an effective leader.

I have been there.  I know how lonely it can feel. But my loneliness is base on my desire to have friends, to enjoy conversations and laugh and tell jokes. But leaders must remember; we are not here to make friends, but rather build relationships. When we realize our job is to build relationships, create trust and add value, we’ll do everything we can to connect with those we lead and create an atmosphere of coaching and collaboration. When that occurs, your not lonely, your fully engaged!

How do we eliminate the loneliness at the top and get our leadership focus right?

Here are five principles I lead by to eliminate the loneliness of leadership:

  1. I’m VISIBLE every day. I make a point to talk face to face or through the phone or video chat with EVERY direct report. I also strategically reach out to indirect reports to continue to build those relationships.
  2. I set clear BOUNDARIES with my team. I lead through a philosophy of Ready, Fire Aim. Meaning I empower my team to identify what needs to be done and go do it! We’ll make it perfect as we progress. However, there are boundaries in regards to people, operational interruptions and costs. When setting boundaries, be careful not to shut yourself off from your team.
  3. I INVOLVE my team in the vision and strategic plan. I make it a priority to get people involved in the process of decision-making, problem-solving, communication, and training.  I make sure everyone has input.
  4. I spend a large part of my time COACHING my team. I meet with each direct report weekly and conduct one-on-one coaching session where we continue to set, adjust and create goals and objectives, conduct on-going performance reviews and develop a mentoring relationship using character-based coaching to achieve their desired goals.
  5. I make sure and COLLABORATE with those outside of my direct reports and team. I made it a priority to meet with every department once a month to listen to their concerns and suggestions, as well as to share information.

There is no doubt that being a leader offers extraordinary challenges in connecting, building relationships and creating an atmosphere of trust. However, just because you’re no longer invited to lunch doesn’t mean that you’re a terrible leader.  Don’t take it personally. More importantly, accept it, because the more you try to be liked, the more you’ll compromise your role and lose respect from the team. Remember you are not there to create friendships, but rather build relationships.

happy-leaders