While discussing leadership responses to employee challenges at a recent Strategies seminar, a business owner asked, “When does it end?” The entire room could feel the frustration and anguish in her voice. “It’s like a battle that never ends,” she continued. “You nurture, coach, inspire and discipline, and just when you think you’ve got everyone on the same page, it starts all over again. Doesn’t it ever end?” These statements were not coming from a naive business owner. She clearly understood that the answer to her question was, “No, it doesn’t end.”
No doubt, employee challenges can wear you down. From behavioral issues and performance problems to simply following the policies and procedures of the company, leading people can be like a game of “what are they going to throw at me next?” Likewise, leadership can be an incredible journey of discovery of your own ability to grow a company by harnessing and orchestrating the abilities of those you lead. Simply put, only you can decide how you want to perceive your own leadership journey.
Here are some no-compromise strategies that will keep your perspective of leadership on course:
- Embrace your role as a leader: Yes, the nonsense and craziness of leading people is all part of the leadership experience. It’s not going to go away. You can’t hide from it or ignore it. Leaders engage. And like a shepherd, leaders continuously tend their flock.
- Relentlessly communicate: It never fails. When leaders back off on communication and information flow, the wrong stuff happens. Leaders set the tone, pace and performance of a company – this doesn’t happen on its own. Most importantly, there is no “autopilot” setting in your role as leader. If you want more of the right stuff to happen, you’ve got to communicate.
- Know your strengths: No leader is a complete package. You will excel at some aspects of leadership and struggle with others. That’s why the best leadership teams are a mixture of skills and abilities. Surround yourself with others that fill your leadership ability gaps. However, this isn’t an excuse to not further your abilities through training and coaching. Getting better is still the name of the game.
- Never confuse coaching with confrontation: I’ve met too many leaders that crumble when it comes to addressing an individual’s behavior and performance issues. “I hate confrontation” is a dangerous statement for a leader to make. Leaders coach with the intent to help others achieve their full potential. If every coaching opportunity is viewed as a “confrontation,” your leadership journey will be a struggle.
- Know when to cut people loose: Allowing toxic employees to remain in the company is pure leadership compromise. Do yourself, your team and your company a favor and cut toxic employees loose.
- Maintain your perspective: It is impossible to be in a leadership role without experiencing stress. It’s how you respond to stress that really matters. More often than not, stress is amplified when tough decisions are delayed or even worse, avoided. Again, leaders need to engage. Tackle tough issues in a timely manner. That’s the very best way to get back to having fun.