When we long for life without difficulties remind us that oaks grow in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure. – Peter Marshall
An old woodsman gives this advice for catching a porcupine: “Watch for the slapping tail as you dash in and drop a large washboard over him. The washboard will give you something to sit on as you ponder your next move.”
As a leader dealing with difficulties is not a new phenomenon to you. Workplaces are an ever present source of stress in people’s lives. The American Institute of Stress (http://bit.ly/1i5E7Zs) identified workload as the number one cause of stress by employees followed by people issues, juggling work and personal issues, and lack of job security.
Because you are surrounded by so many people who are stressed it’s important to keep your leadership skills sharp. Difficulties will come to you as a leader. But here are three you should always welcome because in doing so you will be a stronger and more effective leader.
The difficulty of personal growth
You have to take ownership of your personal growth as a leader. Your effectiveness in leading your team hinges on your ability to lead yourself. It’s all too easy to put personal growth on the back-burner; after all, we are stressed ourselves. We have meetings to attend, clients to meet, personnel issues to resolve, deadlines that are looming, and the list goes on.
But no amount of busyness will ever replace your need for a personal growth plan. How can you grow leaders around you if there is no growth in you? Regardless of how busy your life is you need to find the time to read, join a mastermind group, attend workshops, listen to audio CD’s during your morning commute, etc. Conquering the difficulty of personal growth can be a challenge but it’s a non-negotiable if you want to be effective.
The difficulty of forward thinking
The bedrock principles of leadership such as trust, loyalty, ethics, values, communication, etc. are your foundations. They are the principles you stand upon that keep you grounded as a leader. They are timeless. But your effectiveness as a leader also rests with your ability to adapt to your present circumstances with forward thinking.
This can be difficult for a leader because it’s all too easy and much too predictable to stay in our comfort zones. But the comfort zones of yesterday will not always serve you well tomorrow. The challenges are new and different. Business is not just local; it’s global, and the way we communicate is ever evolving. Forward thinking combined with timeless values can position you for the future and the challenges you face. Let your values be your guide but keep an open mind.
The difficulty of building community
Building community is an emotional investment and challenge that many leaders are just not up for. It can be a thankless job. It’s difficult. I get it. But your success as a leader and the successes of your organization are directly tied to a strong sense of community and relationships. And it begins at the top.
John Maxwell says, “Don’t ever underestimate the importance of building relational bridges between yourself and the people you lead. There’s an old saying: To lead yourself, use your head; to lead others, use your heart. Always touch a person’s heart before you ask him for a hand.” When you embrace what is difficult about building relationships it will revolutionize your leadership and your results.
The simple truth is this: people are your most appreciable asset. People are more important than your brick and mortar, product or location. When you get community and relationships right then everything else will fall into place.
Being a leader is not always easy but it’s very rewarding when you embrace what’s difficult. When you do it changes everything.
What do you say?
© 2015 Doug Dickerson