As a leader, you get paid to overcome the daily obstacles your team faces and to drive the overall results which your organization expects. No argument there.
But what about the obstacles you face as a leader? What are the common stumbling blocks leaders encounter and how do you overcome them?
According to research, the top three leadership obstacles are:
• Responding to Unexpected Changes
Allow me to dive into each issue with suggestions to help you get past these particular challenges.
Many leaders find negotiation difficult, mostly because they view the negotiation process as a conflict to address, and many leaders are simply conflict avoidant. Kevin O’Leary from the TV show Shark Tank said, “So much of life is a negotiation. So even if you’re not in business, you have opportunities to practice all around you.”
Why do we have a conflict avoidance mentality? Perhaps it is because we view conflict as a win-lose scenario – someone wins and the other must lose. Yet, successful negotiators know this is not true at all. So we have a limiting belief at play here – we have been programmed to believe in the win-lose scenario. Therefore, we don’t want to take the chance of losing.
Effective negotiators are those who prepare in advance. They clearly know what they want but also what the other party wants. Effective negotiators are open to the mutual exploration of compromises which benefit both parties. They are also open to creative solutions. Open-mindedness is key.
If we enter the negotiation resistant to positive compromise or with a closed mind, the negotiation event will continue to be viewed as a stressful conflict situation. Either way, there will not be a successful outcome for either party.
Moving on to delegation, Peter Drucker maintains that “No good leader puts off to tomorrow what can be delegated today.” As leaders, we must be highly attuned to how we allocate our time. Every time you say “yes” to something, you must also be fully aware of what you are saying “no” to as well.
The more work you have on your plate, the less time there is to think strategically about the future and become aware of key trends that may represent significant opportunities. Spending your time on the few things which only you can do is a good strategy. Delegate or dump the rest!
As a leader, your role is to focus on getting the right things done; therefore, do not be overly concerned about how the assignment gets done, only that the desired outcome or result is achieved. Delegation is a powerful resource the leader can utilize to empower and develop people on their team.
As a gift to you, please download a complimentary copy of a White Paper I wrote entitled Becoming a Masterful Delegator. You can find it here.
Let me shift attention to the third leadership obstacle, responding to unexpected changes. It would be an oversimplification to say change happens. We know this, yet when the change is unexpected, our response can vary from anger to hopelessness in the most serious situations. But what if you could plan to respond in a different way?
No leader has ever had such an accurate crystal ball to reveal every possible outcome. In this world of ours, while the future can be anticipated, it can never be accurately predicted all the time. If so, the weather forecaster might be paid (and trusted) more!
Consider the following responses to unexpected change:
- View the change as an expectation and not an annoyance– Our attitude has a great deal to do with our response. If we have a positive attitude, we are more likely to respond positively to unexpected changes. A friend of mine was lamenting recently about his reaction to drivers who see nothing wrong with driving 15 miles under the speed limit while in the left lane!
Since he experienced this frustration each day on his commute to work, I suggested he change his attitude from annoyance to expectation. His experience told him to expect at least five such encounters on his commute. Changing his attitude to expect them rather than be annoyed at the “surprise” really changed his approach for the better. It sounds simple, yet it is powerful.
When his new approach was to expect at least five slow drivers, he could then “pre-plan” a more gracious response.
- Develop more leading indicators you can rely on – Many leaders have a tendency to rely on lagging indicators more than leading indicators. Lagging indicators tell us what has already happened and unfortunately we can’t change the past. However, if we focus on leading indicators or those data points which predict a particular outcome, we can be more proactive to adjust our plans.
Being open to such adjustments allows us to act more quickly when the leading indicators are suggesting a slight change to our course of action.
- Realize every problem has at least one solution – Successful leaders know and anticipate at least one solution to a problem or unexpected change. Such unexpected changes actually become opportunities for the leader and the team to consider creative alternatives to achieve the desired results. As I’ve said before, aren’t you glad Thomas Edison didn’t give up after the first 1,000 failed attempts to invent the light bulb!
How are you doing with these obstacles in your leadership? I’d be most interested in learning how you address them.
PS, please do take me up on my gift to you. Download a complimentary copy of a White Paper I wrote entitled Becoming a Masterful Delegator. You can find it here. Put some of these principles into practice and watch your results soar!