Today, we will discuss common leadership challenges, and how Jay Parker suggests resolving them.
As you go through your business leadership journey, you are going to face numerous scenarios and challenges that are common to almost everyone who has come before you. Now, many of these are mundane, and you’ll figure them out for yourself. Or some of the issues are trivial, and won’t affect your career in a material way. But there are other challenges that are more complex… and, depending on your approach and handling, can impact your effectiveness as a leader, and your viability for taking on more senior roles down the road.
Jay has narrowed down the list to four common, but sometimes difficult, challenges that executives and managers will consistently face in leadership. He decided on these particular issues because he has received countless questions on these topics over the years…or he has seen these challenges become derailers for promising leaders….meaning, this person may have had all of the basic qualities or skills to become a successful business leader, but effectively, this one issue caused their downfall, or at least slowed their career and kept them from achieving their full potential.
FIRST…Providing Transparent Feedback – how to consistently provide honest, direct feedback to team members and colleagues, for the betterment of the recipients, the team, and the company.
One of the hardest things to do, no matter how many times you do it, is to give someone critical feedback. We are told that “feedback is a gift”, and we are taught how critical feedback is to our development and the development of our team. We are given tools and timelines and mandates to provide feedback. And still…it stinks. It’s a little uncomfortable at times to tell someone they are doing a nice job…and it’s really uncomfortable to tell them they are doing a poor job. You would be shocked at how many managers are bad at this…at all levels. Even the leaders that come across as forceful and candid in public, turn into a cowardly mess when it’s time to deliver a tough message to an employee 1-on-1.
SECOND….Finding Your Personal Style – how to take advantage of your own abilities, and personality, to maximize your effectiveness. How to be who you are, and not who you think you should be.
We’ve seen examples of leaders for our entire life, and we’ve been taught, either directly or indirectly, what it takes to be a good leader. Somehow over the years, our culture has put on a pedestal the idea of hyper-masculine, tough, charismatic leaders who are in total control and get what they want, by whatever means necessary. They project confidence at all times, never have doubt, and are resistant to input. However, individuals in leadership roles do not necessarily have to act this way.
THIRD…Leading without Expertise – how to effectively lead a business or project, not based on your deep knowledge or subject matter expertise, but based on the personal skills and qualities you have developed to get the most out of your team.
As you begin to grow in your career, take on more responsibility over time, or even change companies…inevitably you’ll find yourself in a role where you are not the preeminent subject matter expert. You will have colleagues that have been there for years and can talk circles around you. You will have team members that have deep expertise, and may even believe initially that they could do the job better than you. You might find yourself in front of customers that are asking questions, and you have no idea what the answer is.
You start to wonder why you took this role. You might feel like a fraud. But you have been put into this position for a reason. Maybe your communication skills, or your operational background. Maybe your creativity or your strategic thought process. The trick is to figure out how to leverage what you do know to improve the business, not worry about what you don’t know.
And LASTLY, Work/Life Balance – how to be committed to the business and your career without sacrificing everything else in your life that you care about.
One myth associated with becoming a senior executive is that you are in effect, giving up your personal life. That the company will drain all of your energy and attention, in return for a bigger paycheck, a nice bonus, and maybe some stock grants. I hate to tell you, but there is some truth to that. If you are responsible for a multi-million, or multi-billion dollar business, and hundreds or thousands of people’s livelihoods, there are certain expectations that come along with it.
You have to be present to a certain extent, you have to be available to a certain extent…and you have to set an example in terms of your work ethic and work quality, for the rest of the organization to follow. Your flexibility decreases, as the demands on your time increase. There is a constant flow of people or situations that need attention, and you don’t have the option if ignoring it.
The good news is that with careful planning, solid time management, a little willpower, and the selective ability to say no…you can have the life outside of work that you want.
If you can develop a personal strategy and approach to address each one of these challenges….you’ll be ahead of most of your counterparts….your chances of achieving your career ambitions will increase exponentially…and you will enjoy the journey more in the meantime.