Who Looks After The Leader?
The management paradox is that the more we look after the needs of others, the less time we dedicate to our own personal and professional growth.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending where you are on the ‘stressometer’, the only person who can look after the leader is the leader themself. This being the case, there are some key things that can be done to ensure that we do not implode and as a result become unproductive and make the wrong decisions.
1. Think and speak differently
Did you know that to be in a leadership position is an absolute privilege? To be given the permission to coach and direct people for the betterment of the organisation and for themselves is not a right, it is a privilege. Ask yourself this question. How do I view my role and what do I say to others about it? You may not love everything about what you do but you have been given the privilege of having input into people’s lives. You can have an affect on the way they view their own lives, whether or not they gain a promotion, how they manage financially etc.
Start to look past the daily annoyances and see the big picture again. It is an absolute privilege to be in a leadership role and if you don’t think that way then maybe it is not the role for you.
2. Take back the controls
To be an effective leader we need to take back the controls of many areas of our lives. Whenever people hear the word control they immediately relate it to a person who is controlling. This could not be further from the truth. A person who is in control of their life is a person who can coach and lead others. Some of the areas we need to control are:
Our personal life – If you have constant turmoil in your personal life then whether we realise it or not, it will have an affect on our workplace and the way we treat the people we work with. You cannot live a double life.Our professional life – If you are not happy where you work then you have three choices. Stay and make a positive difference, stay and become part of the problem, or leave. If you are going to be a successful leader then we must try the first choice and if this is not possible then choice number three is our next option. Too many people become frustrated and then allow the problems and negativity to consume them and choice number two takes over. Take back the controls.
Our emotions – It is OK to be emotional, in fact to suppress our emotions will do far more damage than to let them out. The key to displaying our emotions is to ensure that the appropriate emotion is displayed for the relevant situation or circumstance. It is not the emotion that is the problem but the length of time that we allow this emotion to control our thoughts and actions.
Our behaviour – My father once told me that it is not whether you are right or wrong that is important but whether you react or respond to the situation that matters. Ask yourself if the behaviour you are displaying is appropriate for a person in a leadership position? If not then don’t try to justify it, try to change the way you are behaving.
The things we say – Often it is not necessarily what we say but how we say it. Do you have an inappropriate tone to what you say? Do you try to win an argument by destroying the person with your words?
What we say and how we say it can determine whether people respect us and want to follow us or whether we live our lives in constant conflict.
3. It’s OK to make mistakes
We have been conditioned to believe that mistakes are a sign of weakness and that people will think badly of us if we make a mistake when quite the opposite is the case. If you are not making mistakes then you are not trying anything new. Great leaders make mistakes, are honest about it, learn from those mistakes, grow personally from it and then move on to better things.
Stop dumping on yourself and allowing others to do the same. Mistakes are not a sign of weakness but are a sign of someone having a go and learning something new. The same applies in our personal experiences. So many people let the mistakes of the past rob them of their future. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, it is just not available at the time we require it. Deal with the things that stop you moving forward. You have a right to make mistakes and no-one else has the right to continually remind you of it. Move on.
4. Deal with personal attack appropriately
Are they right? – It’s not about right or wrong. Sometimes there is no one to blame and in fact the rift may be based purely on perception. Realise this, the moment you start to take control of areas of your life or you start to take positive steps forward, you will upset people. If you are not prepared for this then the best thing to do is either prepare yourself or stay where you are.
If people criticise you, then process it. Is it valid criticism? If so, then be honest enough to deal with it. Is it unjustified criticism? The only way you can know this is to be honest and process it. If it is unjustified then put it in the bin where it belongs because it is this type of criticism that has the most affect on our lives if we do not stop it in it’s tracks. Is it just vague criticism?
This simply means that no one is right or wrong, you just simply have a difference of opinion and will never agree. That is OK. Move on.
5. It’s more than just coping
Being an effective leader is more than just coping and being happy that you got through the week without total self destruction. When we are just coping we are not moving forward and this is one of the most important characteristics of effective leadership. Some of the things that can help us do this are:
Deal with procrastination – Do the hard things. Procrastination is one of the greatest soul destroyers. Put processes into your life that stop you from procrastinating. Only you can do it.
Get things out of your system – Don’t hang on to things. Deal with them as soon as possible. The longer they go on, the larger the problem becomes and the harder it is to fix. That simply means that you will waste a great deal of time fixing something that could have been dealt with far sooner and far more effectively.
Learn to relax – Indulge yourself with out guilt. Treat yourself to a massage or a movie or something that is important to you. You deserve and need to refill your tank if you want to do more than just cope.
6. Find a mentor
We all need someone to talk to. Find someone you respect and simply ask them if they would be your mentor. Most people will say yes and if they don’t then they weren’t the right one. Find someone who will let you purge but will help you in finding solutions to the problems, not just agree with you.
It is an absolute privilege to be in a leadership role. Regain the passion and realise even though it gets tough sometimes, you are doing a great thing and you are having an amazing impact on those around you. Hang in there, we need you!
By Des Penny
CEO and Founder of Proteus Enterprises Pty Ltd
Proteus Leadership is one of Australia’s premier leadership training and development companies. Proteus Leadership provides leadership courses and management training to a range of industries and assists organisations to build positive workplace cultures, implement change and Create Great Leaders. Proteus also facilitates a range of world-class management courses, workshops, conferences and events across Australia and beyond with the sole purpose of bringing leaders together to connect and grow.
“Our core purpose is to Create Great Leaders that will in turn build Great companies and develop Great teams.”