As a leader, whether you like it or not, leadership challenges are going to come for you.
From all sides, around every corner, even from within. True leadership based on honesty, authenticity, and meaningful relationships takes guts.
The kind of leadership that inspires others serves others, and points them toward a greater purpose and vision is its hard work.
There are many bumps on the path of leadership. Sometimes they’re roadblocks. Sometimes the bridge is out entirely. But every challenge is an opportunity. It’s a chance to learn about yourself, improve your skills and strengthen the emotional intelligence that’s so critical to effective leadership.
Below are the 10 most common leadership challenges;
1. Providing inspiration: As a leader, your team is looking to you to provide inspiration and motivation to complete their work. This can feel tough in a challenging work environment or if you’re not feeling motivated yourself. To inspire others, help your colleagues to focus on the value their work creates. Share the vision for the team and make sure each of them can connect to how their piece of work makes a difference.
2. Developing others: A key part of your role as a leader is talent and employee development. It’s important to search out the potential in your team members and encourage their growth. You’ll need to understand their hopes for the future and find ways to help challenge and stretch them. Make sure you take the time to listen to your team. Create formal and informal opportunities to talk about how they want to progress in their career and support them to take those steps.
3. Leading change: Change can often feel scary or uncertain and leading a team through it is a significant challenge for today’s leaders. How we work is changing like never before and employees will look to leadership for guidance and reassurance. It is important to validate the feelings of your team and help them to feel their fears are heard. Helping them to find the positives of the change can lower resistance towards it.
4. Handling different perspectives: Workplace conflict can be extremely detrimental when handled poorly, causing stress to almost half (48%) of employees. There will be times as a leader when you have to manage conflict between team members or between yourself and an employee. Conflict can feel uncomfortable but you need to solve it before it upsets the team.
5. Dealing with imposter syndrome: It’s common, especially for new leaders, to lack confidence or feels like they don’t deserve to be in a leadership position. There are a number of different types of imposter syndrome. You might question your own skills or judgment which could lead to indecisiveness. Or you might feel like you have to tackle everything alone which could prevent you from asking for the help you need. To squash imposter syndrome, look for evidence of your capability in feedback from your line manager or peers. You were given the role for a reason! And continue to develop your own skills in areas you find most difficult.
6. Keeping everyone on the same page: In a fast-paced, changing environment it can be tough to keep everyone up to date with what’s going on in the organization, or even in the team. Schedule quick, regular meetings to check everyone is receiving and understanding key information.
7. Making hard decisions: There will be times when you have to make hard decisions. It might mean making an unpopular choice or taking an action that upsets someone but is best for the business overall. In those moments, you can feel alone and unprepared for the task ahead. Take a deep breath and remember that doing the right thing doesn’t always mean doing the easy thing.
8. Delegating: In your eagerness to be successful in your new leadership role, you can end up micro-managing everything. It’s important to learn to delegate, both to demonstrate trust in your team and also to free up your time to concentrate on the most important things. If this feels hard, focus your attention on the most impactful tasks and ask for regular updates on those. Let the rest go.
9. Seeking feedback: Feedback is an opportunity to learn where you can continue to develop but is also a way to hear what your team does appreciate about your leadership. Set up your feedback mechanism to allow this and make sure to respond positively to whatever feedback you receive, it can take a lot of trusts for employees to offer feedback in this way.
10. Staying positive: Things won’t always go to plan and staying positive in the face of disappointment is a real challenge for leaders. But it’s important to move on, especially if the team is also feeling down and looking to you for motivation. Acknowledge the disappointment and identify what you can learn from it. Then use it as fuel to do better next time.
Therefore, as I have highlighted the possible challenges a leader would face, how then do you overcome this challenge?
1. Look after yourself: Leading others can be challenging. There may be times when you feel daunted or overwhelmed by the responsibility. You’ll need to be able to keep yourself motivated, deal with the stress that comes with uncertainty, and avoid emotional exhaustion and burnout. Make sure you take the time to switch off from work. Tempting though it is, don’t read and reply to emails and messages outside work hours. It’s exhausting for you and sets an expectation for your team to also work when they shouldn’t.
2. Get clear on your role: Make sure you know exactly what you and your team are responsible for, and what you’re not! This really helps with managing resources and making sure you don’t take on too much work and stretch yourself, and your team. Understanding your role allows you to focus on the things that only you can do and delegate other tasks amongst the team. Delegating shows you trust your team to get things done and can help develop their skills. And it frees up your time to concentrate on where you can add the most value.
3. Be authentic: There are lots of different types of leaders, and ways to lead, so don’t feel you have to fit into a certain mold. Develop your leadership skills by trying different approaches to situations but don’t try to be something you’re not. Being an authentic leader is important, no so more than ever.
4. Find support: We all need help at times and, sometimes, leadership can feel lonely. Make sure you get the support you need so you can do the best job possible. Speak to your line manager or see whether a coach or mentor can help you develop your skills.